(SANAA, Yemen) — A rebel airstrike hit a Yemeni military parade outside the southern port city of Aden on Thursday, killing several troops from the Saudi-led coalition, Yemeni officials said.
The attack by the rebels, known as Houthis, comes as a blow to Yemen peace efforts after a cease-fire was signed for the key port city of Hodeida last month, and just a day after U.N. envoy Martin Griffiths told the Security Council that the agreement had brought a considerable de-escalation to the conflict.
Pro-rebel news website al-Masirah said the attack was carried out by a drone that targeted “invaders and mercenaries” at Al-Anad Air Base in the southern province of Lahj, leaving “dozens of dead and wounded.”
Military officials say the dead and wounded include “officers and senior leaders” of the coalition troops, which in southern Yemen contain a strong contingent from the United Arab Emirates that largely oversees the Al-Anad base. The air base once hosted U.S. forces fighting al-Qaida in this country on the southern tip of the Arabian Penisnula.
Saudi satellite broadcaster Al-Hadath put the death toll at five in Thursday’s drone strike.
The report said that among the wounded were Mohammad Saleh Tamah, head of Yemen’s Intelligence Service, senior military commander Mohammad Jawas, and Lahj governor Ahmed al-Turki, adding that authorities were still searching for wounded among the rubble.
The Yemeni officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to talk to reporters.
Yemen plunged into civil war in 2014 when the rebels captured Sanaa, and the Saudi-led coalition intervened a year later when they pushed further south. The coalition, which is fighting alongside government troops, has since been trying to restore Yemen’s internationally recognized government to power.
Hopes were raised last month that the country was moving toward peace, after the two sides agreed to a prisoner swap and cease-fire in Hodeida, where rival forces were to withdraw to allow humanitarian aid flows to return and hopefully relieve a country pushed to the brink of famine by war.
Fighting has largely abated in Hodeida but progress on the withdrawal has been slow.
The U.N. humanitarian aid chief Wednesday accused the rebels of blocking humanitarian supplies traveling from areas under their control to government-held areas. Mark Lowcock told the U.N. Security Council that the rebels also recently informed humanitarian agencies that 72 hours’ notice is required ahead of any movements instead of 48 hours.