65 Killed in Yemen by Saudi Air Raids

65 Killed in Yemen  by Saudi Air Raids65 Killed in Yemen  by Saudi Air Raids

Humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders reported on Friday Saudi-led airstrikes on a residential area in Yemen destroyed 17 buildings and left 65 civilians dead. A Saudi helicopter also crashed near the border.

If the reports of the attack on Yemen's southwest city of Taiz are confirmed, the Saudi-led strikes would be one of the deadliest since the attacks began five months ago, DW reported.

The group said the airstrikes were carried out on Thursday morning and rescue operations were still continuing the next morning in the Sala district of the city.

The aid organization, known as Medecins Sans Frontieres, or MSF, said it was unable to reach the hospitals in Taiz.

"We call on the warring parties to stop attacking civilian targets, especially hospitals, ambulances and densely populated neighborhoods and allow medical personnel and humanitarian organizations to provide assistance."

Taiz is Yemen's third largest city after the capital Sana'a and the southern port of Aden. It has been the center of fighting between the Houthis and anti-Houthi forces over the last few days.

A Saudi-led coalition of Arab countries began bombing Yemen in late March to restore fugitive president Abd-Rabbuh Mansour Hadi to power and repel Houthi forces who took control of Sana'a in September and forced Hadi and his government into exile in the Saudi capital Riyadh.

Houthi forces have been pushed back in recent weeks but had been firing shells into the city for two days until Thursday. According to pro-Hadi forces, the shelling stopped with the airstrikes.

"Patients and MSF staff are unable to reach hospitals due to the heavy fighting and airstrikes," MSF said in a statement, adding that 923 people have been wounded over the past three days, and that 133 of them died due to their severe injuries.

Only seven of Taiz's 21 hospitals are currently open but they are "totally overwhelmed" and have run out of essential medication, MSF said.

Saudi Helicopter Down

The official news agency in Saudi Arabia said two pilots in the Saudi-led coalition were killed when their Apache helicopter came down on the border with Yemen on Friday.

In a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency, the coalition said it was investigating the cause of the crash in Saudi Arabia's border province of Jizan.

Yemen's Saba news agency said Houthi forces had shot down a Saudi Apache helicopter in Jizan.

The agency cited a military source as saying the Houthis had also destroyed six Saudi military vehicles in the area.

1st Cargo in Aden Since March

A commercial ship docked in Aden on Friday, the first to reach the former southern capital since Yemen's devastating war came to the port city in March.

The Venus, operated by United Arab Shipping Co., carried a cargo of 350 containers of products ordered by businesses in Aden, said port deputy director Aref al-Shaabi.

"This signals the return of life to the port of Aden and this will benefit the city and southern provinces."

Shaabi said other ships were expected in Aden, the impoverished country's main port and capital of the former South Yemen, in coming days.

With fighting still raging across much of Yemen and a UN warning that the country is on the brink of famine, world powers have voiced concern over Saudi-led airstrikes in the western port city of Hudaydah.

The European Union slammed Tuesday's bombardments on Hudaydah by Saudi warplanes, a vital point of entry for relief supplies.

"Recent airstrikes and shelling of Hudaydah Port facilities have created an additional and immediate obstacle to the import of food, fuel, medicines and other critical goods."

Yemen's war has killed nearly 4,500 people, many of them civilians, according to the United Nations. Some 80% of Yemen's population of 26 million are in desperate need of aid and over a million have been driven from their homes in the nearly five-month war.