Thousands of people gathered in Yemen’s war-ravaged city of Saada on Monday for the funerals of 51 people, including 40 children, who were killed in air strikes by a Saudi-UAE military alliance, backed by the US.
Scores of cars covered in green, which is a hugely symbolic colour in Islam, transported the victims’ coffins from a hospital morgue to a large square for funeral prayers, in a ceremony which was attended by several high-ranking Houthi officials.
Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, who has a $20 million bounty on his head, slammed the killings as a “crime by America and its allies against the children of Yemen”.
The funerals were supposed to take place on Saturday – in Islam, the dead should be buried as soon as possible. However, the Houthis, who control Saada province and large parts of north Yemen, said such gatherings could be targeted by further raids.
Mourners carried pictures of the 40 children killed, while Al-Masirah, a pro-Houthi TV network, broadcast images of small graves being dug at a cemetery where the children were to be buried.
“My son went to the market to run house errands and then the enemy air strike happened and he was hit by shrapnel and died,” said Fares al-Razhi, mourning his 14-year-old son.
“For my son, I will take revenge on Salman and Mohammed Bin Zayed,” he said, referring to the leaders of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
With logistical support from the US, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have carried out attacks in Yemen since March 2015 in an attempt to reinstate the internationally recognised government of President Abu-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
In 2014, Hadi and his forces were overrun by the Houthis who took over much of the country, including the capital Sanaa.
Since then, the military alliance has carried out more than 16,000 air raids on Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country, with more than 3,000 raids pulverising the Houthi stronghold of Saada.
The strikes have failed to reverse thei Houthis’ gains, and instead, made Yemen the worst humanitarian crisis in more than 50 years.