Saudi coalition launches airstrikes to help fend off Houthi offensive

A Saudi-led military coalition launched new airstrikes in Yemen on Saturday (March 20) to help pro-government forces fend off Houthi attacks.

The Saudi Press Agency announced the news on Saturday, saying the new airstrikes were aimed at “thwarting the Houthi militia’s advance on the city of Marib in Al-Kasrah region.”

Just a day earlier, Houthi rebels claimed to have used a drone to launch an attack on an oil refinery in Saudi Arabia’s Riyadh region, sparking a fire. The Saudi government says the fires have been brought under control.

The Iranian-backed Houthi opposition is trying to seize the central Marib province from the Yemeni government and achieve full control of Yemen’s northern region.

The Saudi government-led military coalition took part in Yemen’s civil war in 2015 to defend the Yemeni government.

UNICEF says the Yemeni civil war has killed eight children and injured 33 in this month alone. “We condemn these attacks in the strongest possible terms,” the foundation said in a statement Saturday, adding that “children and their families are surrounded by constant conflict and often pay the greatest price.”

UNICEF said the actual death toll of children in Yemen “may even be higher.” The foundation called on all warring parties to protect vulnerable populations and stop attacks on civilian communities.