Intense fighting between Houthi factions and Yemeni forces allied with a Saudi-backed military campaign continued on Sunday, just a day after the killing of approximately 120 civilians by a Saudi airstrike spurred an impromptu call for a five-day ceasefire in the war-torn and poverty-stricken country.
According to the Associated Press:
The airstrikes late Friday hit workers' housing for a power plant in Mokha, flattening some of the buildings to the ground [...] A fire erupted in the area, charring many of the corpses, including children, women and elderly people.
Wahib Mohammed, an eyewitness and area resident, said some of the bodies were torn apart by the force of the blast and buried in a mass grave on Saturday. Some of the strikes also hit nearby livestock pens, he said. Human and animal blood pooled on the ground of the surrounding area.
The deadly strike highlights growing concerns that the Saudi-led coalition's airstrikes are increasingly killing civilians as they continue to target Shiite rebels known as Houthis.
Responding to the carnage, Hassan Boucenine of the Geneva-based Doctors Without Borders told AP, "It just shows what is the trend now of the air strikes from the coalition. Now, it’s a house, it’s a market, it’s anything."
In the wake of the deadly airstrike on Saturday, the Saudi-led coalition, which includes the United States and allied Gulf states, called for a five-day ceasefire that would begin at midnight local time on Sunday.
However, even as mixed reporting by Reuters indicated that Houthi military leaders may have rejected the call, a fierce battle raged near the port city Aden over a strategically valuable air base:
The al-Anad base, 50 km (30 miles) from the major southern port city, has been held by the Iranian-allied Houthi movement for much of a fourth-month-old civil war, and is regarded as a strategic asset commanding the approaches to Aden.
The Arab coalition on Saturday announced a ceasefire to take effect at 11.59 p.m. (2059 GMT) on Sunday evening for five days to allow for the delivery of humanitarian aid.
Reuters indicated that a Houthi leader may have taken to Twitter to reject the call for the midnight ceasefire, but other journalists expressed doubt that the message was valid:
Not sure what Houthi twitter account reuters is referring to here; not seeing anything on any of the official ones. http://t.co/aCU7BtkGdI— Adam Baron (@adammbaron) July 26, 2015
Since the Saudi-led bombing began in March of this year, the United Nations last week estimated that in addition to the many more thousands injured and maimed, at least 1,693 civilians have been killed in Yemen, of which 365 were children. Already one of the poorest nations on the planet before the fighting and subsequent bombing campaign began, both the UN and independent aid agencies have warned that so long as the war continues and humanitarian blockade enforced, Yemen's further spiral towards total political chaos and a full-fledged famine will continue.