Arab coalition denies striking wedding party in Yemen

Spokesperson for the Saudi-led coalition tells Al Jazeera no air strikes were conducted in Dhamar area.

Yemen map Sanban wedding air strike

The Arab coalition has denied that its warplanes targeted a wedding in Yemen’s Dhamar, the second alleged strike on a wedding party in the Arabian Peninsula country in just over a week.

“The coalition did not conduct any air strikes in that area. Ongoing fighting between the Houthis and other factions have been going on in that area. 

“Not every time an explosion or an attack takes place, it is committed by the coalition. We do not target civilian areas, ” Spokesperson for the coalition, Ahmad al-Asiri told Al Jazeera over the phone.

RELATED: Yemen’s Houthis confirm commitment to peace plan

“We do know that many weapons are hidden in civilian areas but we do not bomb these areas at all.” 

The suspected air strike killed at least 28 people and wounded 38 others at the wedding party, witnesses said, even as UN peace efforts make headway.

The new raid hit a house where dozens of people were celebrating on Wednesday evening in the town of Sanban in Dhamar province, 100km south of the capital Sanaa, residents said.

The Houthi-affiliated Al Masirah television said on Twitter that the wedding was hit by “aggression warplanes”, referring to the coalition.

In September a suspected coalition strike killed at least 131 civilians at a wedding near the Red Sea city of al-Mokha, which the UN said may have been the deadliest hit since March.

The coalition denied involvement.

RELATED: Deaths as air strikes hit wedding party in Yemen

UN-sponsored peace plan

The latest strike came as the UN announced that Houthi rebels, who control the capital and much of central and northern Yemen, had accepted a UN Security Council resolution calling for an end to the seven-month conflict.

Whereas Yemen’s government dismissed as a “manoeuvre” on Thursday the Houthis’ acceptance of the UN-sponsored peace plan and demanded that the group hand back territory it has seized since last year.

The Houthis, who control much of Yemen along with the party of ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh, said on Wednesday they had officially informed UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon of their readiness to join talks to end more than six months of fighting in which more than 5,000 people have died.

Asked about the overture from the Houthi-Salah camp, however, President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s press secretary, Mokhtar Alrahbi, said: “The government’s position is unchanged. There must be an announcement of willingness to implement all articles of the (UN) resolution without any changes.”

“We are ready to go to any talks after a clear acceptance of the implementation of the UN resolution,” Alrahbi said, adding that the Houthi and Saleh acceptance had come with conditions.

“We consider this (Houthi acceptance) a manoeuvre, especially after the painful strikes they received,” said Alrahbi, referring to the advances by the coalition east of the Yemeni capital Sanaa and the capture of the Bab al-Mandab strait in south-western Yemen.

Source: AFP, Al Jazeera