Fighting between pro-Saudi forces and the Yemeni Houthis continues to tear apart the central Yemeni city of Taiz, with the latest shelling from the Houthis leaving 14 dead, reportedly all civilians, and the Saudis declaring the city a “disaster area.”
Today’s deaths were just the icing on the cake for a week of bloody fighting over the city, including a flurry of Saudi airstrikes on Friday that killed another 65 civilians, leveling much of a neighborhood. The indications are neither side has control at this point.
Taiz is Yemen’s third largest city, behind Sanaa and Aden, and lies between those two, which are held by Houthis and pro-Saudi fighters, respectively. Consequently, control over the city of Taiz is seen by each side strategically crucial to giving them a show at the other side’s capital.
So far though, most of the victims have been civilian bystanders in a city which, like so much of the country, is suffering mightily under the Saudi naval blockade, meaning most of the city’s hospitals were already closed when this huge influx of casualties began, and those that remain are running low on even basic supplies.
The declaration of a “disaster area” reflects a problem with the two sides putting so much effort into the “important” city, that by the time either one of them actually wins the battle all they’ll win is the ruins of a once important city, and the job of picking up the pieces.