August 17, 2015 / 12:18 PM / 5 years ago

Civilians bear brunt of air strikes in Yemen

SANAA (Reuters) - Warplanes from a Saudi-led coalition killed six civilians in an air raid that targeted the home of a Houthi leader in the southwestern Yemeni town of Jibla on Monday, local officials said.

A man walks on the rubble of a house destroyed during recent fighting between Houthi militiamen and militants loyal to Yemen's exiled government, in the country's central city of Taiz August 17, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer

Eleven people were killed in another air raid on a family house in the northern province of al-Jawf, bordering Saudi Arabia, tribal sources said.

Air strikes also hit the Red Sea port of Hodaida while on the ground, fighters loyal to the exiled government pushed closer to Houthi strongholds.

Tribal militiamen battled Houthi forces throughout the mountainous area of Ibb, which lies between the coast and the Houthi-controlled capital Sanaa.

Loyalist forces, back by Gulf Arab planes, weapons and training, have been on the offensive since breaking out off the southern port of Aden last month, claiming a string of gains against the Houthis.

The Iranian-allied Houthis seized Sanaa last September in what they called a revolution against a corrupt government, then took over much of the country.

President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi fled Aden, where he had sought refuge, for Riyadh in March. Arab countries led by Sunni Muslim power Saudi Arabia intervened in the conflict to push back what they see as spreading Iranian influence in their backyard.

The war has killed more than 4,300 people, many of them civilians, and spread disease and hunger in one of the Arab world’s poorest states.

In Monday’s air raids, the attack on Jibla, a town in Ibb province, killed six civilians, local officials said. It was not clear if the Houthi leader who had been targeted was among the victims.

In Hodaida, which the Houthis captured in October, residents said Saudi-led warplanes attacked military installations and killed 13 people.

The Houthis, Shi’ite Muslims from the north of Yemen, deny any Iranian backing.

The United Nations is working to clinch a political deal to end the fighting to avoid a final showdown and to guard against a political vacuum in the country, which is home to active branches of Al Qaeda and Islamic State.

Reporting By Mohammed Ghobari, Writing by Noor Chehayber,; Editing by Noah Browning and Angus MacSwan

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