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Yemen airstrike kills 22 children fleeing earlier bombing, rebels say

(CNN) Saudi-led coalition airstrikes killed 30 people, including 22 children, in a rebel-held area in northwestern Yemen on Thursday, according to the Houthi-controlled Health Ministry.

Four families were evacuating their homes in a vehicle when the airstrikes hit, according to Houthi-owned media. Earlier coalition airstrikes on Wednesday killed four people and injured two, according to two surviving family members who preferred to remain anonymous for security reasons.

"Four people were killed in the strike before, that's why they fled. They wanted to save their lives, their children's lives. Is nowhere safe for us?"  one survivor said.

Both sources did not want to be named out of fear for their safety. 

Thursday's airstrikes hit al-Duraihmi district, some 20 kilometers from the Red Sea city of Hodeidah, the latest flashpoint in Yemen's ongoing war. The International Rescue Committee said airstrikes in al-Duraihmi city on Wednesday killed 13 people.

"Anything that moves dies," one resident of al-Duraihmi who didn't want to be named for security reasons told CNN. The area's proximity to the strategic city of Hodeidah has turned it into a major battleground, sustaining repeated airstrikes in recent days.

Houthi-held Hodeidah city, considered a humanitarian lifeline to millions of Yemenis, is a main rebel gateway to the Red Sea. Coalition-backed forces have sought to wrest control of it since June.

A Houthi-owned image of Thursday's airstrike.

Earlier this month, a Saudi-led airstrike hit a school bus carrying scores of boys in Yemen. The attack killed 51 people, including 40 children, according to the Houthi-held Health Ministry. CNN has established that the bomb used in the attack was a 500-pound (227 kilogram) laser-guided MK 82 bomb made by Lockheed Martin, one of the top US defense contractors.

The Saudi-led coalition did not immediately respond to CNN's request for comment on the Thursday airstrike.

Houthi rebels also launched an attack in the same area on Thursday, according to UAE state media. A ballistic missile struck a village recently recaptured by the coalition-backed Yemeni national government, killing one child and injuring dozens, the UAE statement said.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE have led a military campaign since March 2015 to quash Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi rebels.

There have been growing calls in the US Congress for Saudi Arabia, a key US ally in the Middle East, to do more to prevent civilian deaths in Yemen, where three years of conflict have taken a terrible toll.

Thursday's airstrike killed 30 people, including 22 children.

Earlier this month, US President Donald Trump signed a defense spending bill that includes a clause requiring the Pentagon and State Department to certify that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, another key coalition member, are doing enough to reduce civilian casualties. This report must be submitted to Congress within 180 days and then annually for the next two years.

The war in Yemen is now the world's worst humanitarian crisis, with more than 22 million people -- three-quarters of the population -- in desperate need of aid and protection, according to the United Nations.

More than 10,000 civilians have died and 40,000 have been wounded in the war, which reportedly has left 15 million Yemenis without access to clean water.

"Children continue to be victims of intense and senseless violence in Yemen. Where does this cruelty end? Stop the war on children in Yemen!" UN children's agency (UNICEF) Regional director in the Middle East and North Africa said in a statement on Friday.

CNN's Roba Alhenawi and journalist Ghada Mohammed contributed to this report
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