March 14-20: Coalition launches deadliest airstrikes since beginning of war

March 14A UAE fighter jet participating in a combat mission in Yemen’s Aden crashed on Monday morning in the city’s western district of al-Buraiqeh, killing both pilots. The crash was reportedly due to a technical failure.

March 15 A coalition airstrike struck a market in Hajjah on Tuesday. Initial figures reported 41 civilians killed, but that number tripled by the end of the week. Recent estimates say that of the approximately 120 killed, at least 24 were children.

March 16 The Saudi-led coalition said on Wednesday that it would launch an investigation into the Hajjah airstrikes. The coalition had said the day before that pictures of the aftermath are not proof that the casualties were caused by airstrikes. Brig. Gen. Al-Asiri said that the casualties “could have been caused by another type of attack.” It has since been confirmed that the deaths were in fact the result of a Saudi-led coalition airstrike, with the UN condemning the attack on civilians.

Despite the destruction wrought in Hajjah, Brigadier General Al-Asiri said on Wednesday that Yemen will need Saudi Arabia’s help to secure peace and stability. Al-Asiri also claimed that the conflict is coming to a close.

March 17 The reported death toll of the Hajjah market assault reached 119 on Thursday, making it one of the war’s deadliest attacks so far. UN’s Ban Ki-Moon demanded an investigation into the bombings.

Al-Asiri told AP on Thursday that Saudi Arabia will be scaling down its operations in Yemen, although it will continue to provide air support to Yemeni forces battling the Houthis. He claimed that “the aim of the coalition is to create a strong cohesive government with a strong national army and security forces that can combat terrorism and impose law and order across the country." He added that the coalition’s main goal from now on is to help build a Yemeni army.

March 18 The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights described on Friday the “carnage” from Tuesday’s airstrikes on Hajjah as evidence of the “repeated failure” by the Saudi-led coalition to avoid hitting civilian targets. UN personnel visiting the site in Hajjah on Wednesday found no evidence of the military installments that the Saudi-led coalition claimed to be targeting.

The International Red Cross and Red Crescent released a statement on Friday saying that the organizations are “appalled by the failure to protect aid workers risking their lives on a daily basis for the sake of humanity in Yemen.” The statement comes after four volunteers with the Red Crescent were injured, one critically, on March 14 when workers were shelled while trying to retrieve the bodies of those killed in Marib.

March 19 UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed arrived in San’a on Saturday to try to restart peace talks with the Houthis, a day after holding talks in Riyadh with Hadi. A new round of negotiations next month has since been agreed upon, and will reportedly be preceded by a ceasefire lasting “a week or two.”

March 20 At least 55 people, including 14 civilians, were killed in two days of fighting between pro-government forces and Houthis. Dozens of fighters were reportedly killed on Saturday during clashes in Ta’iz after Houthi forces attempted to retake the city. The coalition responded with a series of airstrikes to prevent their advance.