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Arab coalition denies targeting wedding party in southwest Yemen
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Fighters of the Popular Resistance stand during a graduation ceremony of the affiliate special forces of the Popular Resistance, in Yemen's southwestern city of Taiz on October 8, 2015. (REUTERS/Stringer)

Fighters of the Popular Resistance stand during a graduation ceremony of the affiliate special forces of the Popular Resistance, in Yemen’s southwestern city of Taiz on October 8, 2015. (REUTERS/Stringer)

Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat—The Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthi group in Yemen has denied its warplanes targeted a wedding party in the southwestern Dhamar Governorate on Thursday, maintaining that the incident was caused by a firefight between the Shi’ite rebels and militants from the governorate.

“Arab coalition warplanes did not fly over Dhamar governorate on Thursday evening,” spokesman Brig. Gen. Ahmed Asiri told Asharq Al-Awsat.

“It is not our strategy to target civilians and residents, no matter what,” Asiri said via telephone, adding that investigations by the legitimate government found that the attack took place when local militants clashed with Houthi rebels trying to secure a foothold in the governorate.

The Houthi-controlled Saba news agency reported that a coalition airstrike killed and injured dozens at a wedding party in Dhamar on Thursday.

Given its presence on the ground, the government of President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi is the only credible source, Asiri argued, calling on international organizations to cooperate with the Western-backed government in investigating such incidents.

“The [Saudi-led] coalition welcomes any international commission of inquiry into such incidents,” Asiri said, adding that the Arab coalition is not responsible for every single explosion that happens in Yemen.

On the humanitarian side, Asiri said efforts to deliver aid to civilians in Yemen were underway and that ships loaded with foodstuffs and medical supplies were constantly arriving in the country’s ports.

He said: “Six relief ships arrived in Al-Hudaydah’s port and 12 in Aden’s port on Wednesday.”

The Arab coalition began its aerial campaign against the Houthis and allied supporters of ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh in late March shortly after Hadi fled a rebel advance on his temporary base in the southern city of Aden.

Saudi-led forces and government loyalists have in recent weeks retaken Aden, Yemen’s second city, and driven the Houthis and Saleh’s followers from major southern areas.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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