SANA’A – Hundreds of people in the Yemeni capital of Sana’a attended on Thursday the funeral of 17 women and children killed in airstrikes.
The attacks in the northwestern province of Hajjah were allegedly carried out by the Saudi-led coalition.
Around 700 people, including Health Minister of the Houthi government, Taha al-Mutawakil, mourned the women and children in a funeral that began in the al-Radwa mosque, near the city’s airport.
In Houthi-held Sana’a, all the roads that led to the mosque were blocked, while Houthi officials confiscated grenades and explosive devices from the attendees, although allowed the crowd to carry assault rifles.
The bodies of the victims, including 11 members of one family and six from another, were driven in ambulances to the mosque, where the bereaved prayed before their coffins.
As the prayers finished the funeral procession left the mosque and walked to a nearby cemetery while the crowd chanted anti-United States slogans, lifting their rifles in the air.
The United States Senate passed a bill to end the North American country’s backing for Saudi Arabia in the Yemeni Civil War, which the Arabian Peninsula kingdom has been involved in since March 2015, by providing air support to the troops of the internationally recognized president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.
Last week, the coalition’s alleged airstrikes killed 20 people, as they targeted Hajjah’s Kushar district, according to the Houthis.
Houthis seized control of Hajjah province after an intense two-month long campaign against the Hajour – Sunni tribes in Hajjah in alliance with Saudi Arabia.
A week ago, Houthi-allied forces defeated the Hajour and gained control of the Kushar district after heavy fighting that forced tens of thousands of locals to flee, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
According to media loyal to Hadi, who since early 2015 has been in self-exile in Saudi Arabia, the Houthis breached a ceasefire agreed with the Hajour in 2013.
Over the last few weeks, the international coalition opposing the Houthis has sent cargos of food, medicine and arms to Kushar, to back the Hajour fighters, according to military sources.
Yemen has been engulfed in a violent conflict between forces loyal to the Sunni, Saudi-backed Yemeni government and the indigenous Shiite Houthis for the past four years.
Sunni Muslims make up the largest branch of Islam and Shiite followers comprise the second-largest group globally, a pattern replicated in Yemen where Sunnis out-number Shiites nearly two to one, although regionally-specific religious demographics vary across the Muslim-majority world.
The UN has described the Yemeni Civil War as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.