Coalition denies bombing Yemen heritage site

‘For sure we did not conduct any operation inside (the) city,’ Saudi Brigadier General Ahmed al-Assiri, the coalition spokesman said

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The Saudi-led coalition denied claims that it carried out a strike on the historic old quarter of the capital Sanaa.

“For sure we did not conduct any operation inside (the) city,” Saudi Brigadier General Ahmed al-Assiri, the coalition spokesman, told AFP.

Assiri’s comments came after claims that the coalition forces had carried out a bombing raid killing five people and destroying three houses in the UNESCO-listed heritage site.

Residents had said the pre-dawn strike was the first direct hit on old Sanaa since the launch of the bombing campaign against Huthi rebels in late March.

It is claimed the Qassimi neighborhood was hit in a missile strike. The district boasts thousands of houses built before the 11th century, an AFP journalist reported.

The alleged missile did not explode but is said to have still destroyed the three buildings. Those killed including a woman and a child, medics and witnesses said.

The target of the raid was not immediately clear amid conflicting statements from residents about whether rebels had occupied one of the houses hit.

The old city has already suffered some damage from air strikes on nearby targets, including the defense ministry, prompting a protest from UNESCO in May.

Sanaa’s old city, situated in a mountain valley, has been inhabited for more than 2,500 years and was a major center for the propagation of Islam, boasting over 100 mosques, 14 public baths and more than 6,000 houses built before the 11th century.

It was inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1986.

The multi-story houses rising above stone ground floors were built of rammed earth and burnt brick. Each building is decorated with geometric patterns of fired bricks and white gypsum, inspired by traditional Islamic art.

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