Saudi attack helicopters poured into the northern Yemeni village of Bani Zela today, just a few miles off the Saudi border in the Hajjah Province, opening fire on fleeing civilians and leaving at least 30 dead. Many others were wounded, and with no medical resources in blockaded North Yemen, the toll is expected to rise.
The first round of attacks pursued people through the streets of the village, killing 25, and were followed by a second quick sweep that killed five more, including three medics, who were trying to help transfer the wounded away from the site.
Early in the day, Saudi officials were bragging about myriad attacks, including in Hajjah, and insisting they’d killed “dozens of rebels” in the offensive. Later in the day, when it became clear how much of the toll was civilian, Saudis insisted nothing happened in Hajjah at all.
In the case of recent Saudi airstrikes killing civilians, the Saudi government has tried to reflect blame by claiming rebel mortar fire somehow did it. With low-flying attack helicopters, there’s not much chance of shifting blame, and right now blanket denial seems to be the narrative of choice.