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Air strikes kill 15 civilians in Yemen, hours before truce: Residents

Reuters , Tuesday 15 Dec 2015
Yemen conflict
Shia fighters, known as Houthis, chant slogans during a tribal gathering showing support for the Houthi movement in Sanaa, Yemen, Monday, Dec. 14, 2015 (Photo: AP)
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Air strikes by an Arab coalition targeting Yemen's dominant Houthi group killed at least 15 people late on Monday, residents said, hours before a ceasefire was due to take effect to pave the way for U.N.-sponsored peace talks in Switzerland.

Residents said war planes launched two raids on the village of Bani al-Haddad, in the northern Hajjah province on the border with Saudi Arabia, killing 13 people and wounding 20 others.

Two more residents died while medics were trying to evacuate them, they said.

A spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition could not be reached for immediate comment but the alliance says it does not target civilians.

The coalition has said that the ceasefire requested by Yemeni President Abd Rabbou Mansour Hadi to facilitate the planned peace talks in Switzerland would start at noon local time (0900 GMT) on Tuesday.

In a statement carried by Saudi state news agency SPA, the coalition said that Arab forces retained the right to respond to any breach of the ceasefire.

The coalition has been waging mainly air strikes on the Houthis since March, after the Houthis seized control of much of the country in a series of moves that started in September 2014.

The Houthis see their move as a revolution against state corruption and against the militant Islamist al Qaeda.

The Saudi-led coalition sees the Houthis as furthering rival Iran's efforts to expand its influence into the Arabian Peninsula.

Two senior commanders from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were among dozens of fighters killed in a rocket strike in south-western Yemen, according to local media and Yemeni sources on Monday.

A previous round of peace talks in Geneva in June failed to produce a breakthrough, with each side blaming the other for the failure of the talks.

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