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Anger Burns in Bombed Yemen Villages

Anger Burns in Bombed Yemen Villages
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Two days after an airstrike, residents of this farming village in Yemen examine a bomb site, a pile of rubble that until then had been their mosque.

As the Saudi-led coalition continues bombing Houthi militants in Yemen, locals say the victims are often regular people with no stake in the war.

Residents here sit listlessly among the rubble, unwilling or unable to rebuild. They say the most recent airstrike in this area also hit a three-family home, killing children and leaving more than 40 people homeless.

"They have destroyed everything," says Mohammad Ja’adan, whose home has been reduced to a pile of rocks. "They demolished the house on top of the heads of its residents. The home was here and the whole family was inside. Some escaped, others did not."

Strikes occur almost daily

The war in Yemen is multifaceted, with Houthi militants and their allies fighting against an internationally recognized government led by President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi and their allies. A 10-member coalition led by Saudi Arabia provides air support for the Hadi government, and Yemenis report bombings almost every day.

From the capital Sana'a, bombs can be seen raining down on nearby Houthi-controlled military bases in the mountains.

FILE - Villagers scour rubble for belongings scattered during the bombing of Hajar Aukaish, Yemen, in April 2015. (A. Mojalli/VOA)
FILE - Villagers scour rubble for belongings scattered during the bombing of Hajar Aukaish, Yemen, in April 2015. (A. Mojalli/VOA)

But in some farming villages, locals insist with palpable anger that no nearby buildings nor people would make logical military targets.

"There is no military camp here," says Ali Saleh al-Ne’emi. "There are no military commanders, no Houthis, no political party members, no army and no military base in the area. The people are only poor farmers."

Need increasing

In Hidhran, bombed-out cars and holy books are left charred and scattered among the debris. Yemeni people have long been plagued by strikes from above, with the current barrage following 12 years of U.S. drone strikes that have killed hundreds of people.

The United Nations has recorded thousands of civilian deaths and thousands more wounded in the Yemen conflict this year. Most people in Yemen now critically need emergency aid, and in many places the prices of basic goods such as food and water have doubled and tripled.

The anger toward foreign forces over Yemeni skies is pervasive.

The old slogan "Death to America, death to Israel" can be heard in the countryside, targeting the most popular villains in the Arab world. Villagers also blame the Saudis, who receive U.S. support in the form of weapons and intelligence.

"We are all saying they will never humiliate us," Hidhran resident Adullah al-Faqeh says of those conducting strikes. "They will never make us fall to our knees from these crimes!"

They say other people, often with foreign agendas, are fighting the war, but ordinary families are punished the most.

"We are not leadership," says Mohammed Saleh Al-Ne'emi, the traditional head of Hidhran. "We are ordinary people. And look what happened to our house of God."

Almigdad Mojalli reported from Hidrhan, Yemen, and Heather Murdock reported from Cairo.