SANAA, Yemen — Airstrikes by a Saudi-led coalition targeted Yemen’s capital early on Friday, hitting at least three houses in Sanaa and killing at least 14 civilians, including women and children, residents and eyewitnesses said.
The attack was the latest by the coalition, which has been waging a relentless air campaign against Yemen’s Iran-backed Shiite rebels for the past two years in an effort to bring the internationally recognized government back to power.
Recently, the strikes in and around the capital, Sanaa, targeting army compounds and other locations of the rebels known as Houthis, have intensified. On Wednesday, coalition fighter jets struck a hotel in the town of Arhab, north of Sanaa, killing at least 41 people.
Friday’s strikes hit the city’s southern neighbourhood of Fag Attan. The death toll was expected to rise further as rescuers pulled more victims from under the rubble.
The escalation comes amid signs of fracturing between the two main components of the rebel alliance in Sanaa, the Houthis and loyalists of ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh — a standoff that has triggered fears of street violence.
The rebel alliance controls much of northern Yemen, including Sanaa.
The coalition, led by Saudi Arabia and including a string of other Arab states, is trying to restore the internationally recognized government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi to power.
On Thursday, ex-president Saleh drew about 300,000 supporters for a rally in the streets of Sanaa in a public show of support for him amid the tensions with the Houthis. Saleh’s supporters said in a statement that the party will evaluate its partnership with the Houthis.
The war has shown no signs of abating.
The Saudi-led airstrikes have hit schools, hospitals, and markets, killing thousands of civilians and prompting rights groups to accuse the coalition of war crimes. Activists have called upon Western countries, including the United States and Britain, to cease their military support for the coalition.
The conflict has killed over 10,000 civilians, displaced 3 million people and pushed the impoverished nation to the brink of famine.
On Wednesday, Gen. Joseph Votel, the top U.S. commander for the Middle East, visited the Saudi-Yemen border for a first-hand look at the kingdom’s military fight against Yemen’s rebels — a visit that coincided with the attack in Arhab.
Separately from Yemen’s civil war, the United States has pressed on with a campaign targeting al-Qaida-linked militants in Yemen as it tries to determine its level of support for the Saudi-led coalition.