UN says airstrikes killed at least 115 in Yemen over 11 days

The U.N. human rights office said Tuesday it has verified the killings of 115 Yemeni civilians and other non-combatants in airstrikes carried out over 11 days this month by a Saudi-led military coalition batting Yemen's Shiite rebels.

The office spokesman, Rupert Colville, said U.N. officials are "deeply concerned" about the surge in civilian casualties from airstrikes following the killing in early December of Yemen's former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Saleh was killed by the rebels, known as Houthis, after apparently switching alliances and turning against his former allies. Colville said the killings occurred in the Dec. 6-16 period in four northern provinces.

The attacks included airstrikes on Yemen's rebel-run TV channel, a hospital in the Red Sea port city of Hodeida and a series of strikes targeting a prison in Sanaa that killed 43, he said.

Meanwhile, hundreds of world figures urged the leaders of the United States, France and Britain on Tuesday to stop "stoking the flames of war" in impoverished Yemen. The statement, signed by 355 high-profile figures, marked the 1,000th day of the war, which has turned the poorest Arab country into the world's largest humanitarian crisis.

The signatories included eight Nobel peace laureates, religious leaders, Western lawmakers and rights defenders, as well as U.S. Congresswomen Barbara Lee and Pramila Jayapal, and Congressman Ro Khanna, all Democrats.

"To prevent further catastrophe and famine, Yemen needs an immediate cease-fire; an end to all blockages on access for food, fuel and medical supplies; and investment in a new, inclusive peace process," the statement read.

It appealed on President Donald Trump, British Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron.

"If you don't want the burden of the lives of thousands more Yemeni children on your hands, then the time to act is now. Yemen can't wait any longer," it said.

The appeal also called on the U.N. Security Council to press Saudi Arabia and its ally the United Arab Emirates, the main pillars of the coalition, to end the war in Yemen.

Over the past three years, more than 10,000 people have been killed and three million displaced amid the Saudi-led coalition's air campaign against Iranian-backed Houthis and their allies.

The U.S.-backed Saudi collation is seeking to restore Yemen's internationally recognized government back to power.


Associated Press writers Samy Magdy in Cairo and Ahmed al-Haj in Sanaa, Yemen, contributed to this report.