Photography by Alex Potter
“We were sitting in the mosque, reading Quran. A while after the afternoon prayer we heard a plane circling, and a huge explosion,” says a boy surveying the damage to a mosque in the village of Al Joob, in Yemen. “People were running and there were pieces of bodies everywhere.”
On July 6, 2015, Saudi-led coalition airstrikes killed over 30 civilians in Al Joob, a village located in Amran, a rural governorate north of Sanaa. As Yemeni families shopped for produce, men prayed in the mosque nearby, and women prepared the evening meal, a missile struck a small market, burning cars, shattering glass, and sending shrapnel into the bodies of dozens of bystanders.
The strike on the market hit an open area. It destroyed the market and damaged the mosque and nearby homes. The second strike hit rocks that were set to be broken down into building material, and tore apart nine children and a man from a farming family selling fruits and vegetables.
There is no military site in the area, nor any place for possible weapons storage, according to local residents.
The two strikes in Amran are added to a long list of others, including one in Hajjah that killed 30, and another just north of Aden that left 45 people dead. So why does the Saudi-led coalition, which is supported by U.S. intelligence, continue to hit civilian areas? Saudi Arabia claims the air campaign has been successful in driving back the Houthis, Zaydi Shia rebels who also refer to themselves as Ansar Allah, yet civilians make up the majority of the casualties.
The air campaign, however, is only pushing people to oppose the Saudi-led coalition, which wants to force the Houthis from power. “We are simple farmers. Before this we were not involved in politics,” says Mabkhoot Musa, a resident of Al Joob. “But I swear now that they have killed our sons and nephews, we will be against Saudi until the end.”
Alex Potter (b. 1989) is a documentary photographer from the Midwest living in the Middle East.