On Monday, their attention turned south, with Saudi warplanes launching a series of airstrikes against a wedding party in Mocha, killing another 131 civilians in one of the single deadliest incidents of the entire war and leading to a flurry of worldwide condemnation.
The Saudi-led coalition said on Wednesday it had seized an Iranian fishing boat in the Sea of Oman loaded with weapons destined for Houthi rebels it is fighting in Yemen. The U.S. has sold the Gulf monarchy war planes, armored vehicles, missiles, bombs, and more, which it is now using against Yemen.
But global rights groups have expressed alarm at the escalating number of civilian deaths in the conflict – at least 2,355 out of more than 4,500 people killed from the end of March to 24 September, according to figures released by the United Nations on Tuesday.
In his speech, President Hadi criticized Iran, which he said was backing the Houthi rebel forces, and praised what he called the “courageous” defence of Yemen by the Saudi-led forces. Further, roughly 21 million of Yemen’s population of 25 million have been impacted by the conflict.
“I do hope that efforts made by the United Nations will be crowned by success”, he said, emphasizing that “the satiability of our country is a source of stability for the region and the world”.
The diplomatic clash over the hajj disaster has heightened tension between regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran as the two countries battle for influence in the Middle East.
Locals said the Arab coalition, that launched an air war on the Houthi Shiite rebels this year around five months back, reported to be behind the attack on the wedding hall.
Yemen has been embroiled in fighting that pits the Houthis and forces loyal to a former president against the Saudi-backed and internationally recognized government as well as southern separatists, local militias and Sunni extremists.
Schools, hospitals, markets, mosques, ports, water bottling factories, workers’ dormitories and residential neighborhoods have all been targeted for destruction, often resulting in mass civilian casualties.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the bombing and “stated that there is no military solution to the conflict in Yemen”. It called on the Saudi-led coalition and Yemen’s government to allow “independent and impartial” investigations.