Saudi-led airstrikes in the Yemen city of Taiz killed more than 65 civilians Friday, the humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders said, adding that survivors were using their bare hands to search for others. Taiz has become the latest battleground in an increasingly deadly and complicated conflict. Supporters of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, driven into exile by Houthi fighters, have recently taken control of large parts of the city.
At least 17 children and 20 women were among those killed Friday. Wounded civilians as well as Doctors Without Borders staff members experienced difficulty reaching hospitals because of heavy fighting, the organization said in a statement. Only seven of the 20 hospitals in Taiz were reportedly still functioning.
— Doctors w/o Borders (@MSF_USA) August 21, 2015
“If the warring parties continue to carry out heavy shelling and airstrikes, more people will die,” Doctors Without Borders warned in the statement. “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.”
Houthi fighters, made up of Shiite rebels, were also responsible for shelling civilian infrastructure, as they targeted a main power plant in the city in a bid to drive out the exiled president's supporters, local officials told Reuters Friday.
The civil war has killed more than 4,300 people since late March, as aid groups have been calling for both sides to reach a ceasefire to allow humanitarian relief for civilians. Saudi Arabia views the Houthis, who have taken control of the country’s capital, as proxies of Iran. Houthis say they have risen against rampant government corruption.
Human Rights Watch in New York City has accused both factions of committing war crimes. Saudi airstrikes killed 65 civilians in a residential compound last month, the organization claimed, adding that pro-Houthi factions repeatedly put civilians' lives at risk.