At least 58 people were reported killed today, including a large number of women and children, as the Saudi military escalated airstrikes against northern Yemen, hitting rural Shi’ite-dominated areas not far from their mutual border.
Saudi airstrikes have killed large numbers of civilians over the course of the past two months, with attacks centering not just around the north, but also around major cities, particularly the capital of Sanaa, where strikes have killed hundreds.
Yemen’s Shi’ite Houthi faction today issued a statement backing UN-brokered Geneva peace talks, saying the group supports any effort to end the war “without preconditions.” The Saudi-backed exile government has previously spurned the efforts, but now is expressing willingness to participate.
In addition to these factions, former dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh has reportedly been invited to the talks and is expected to attend. Saleh was in power for decades before his 2011 ouster, which led to the 2012 installation of President Hadi. Hadi resigned in January. Southern secessionist factions, which control some cities, are not invited, nor were al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which holds some key ports.