Hundreds gather in Yemen to mourn children killed in Saudi-led coalition airstrike

Hundreds gather in Yemen to mourn children killed in Saudi-led coalition airstrike
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Hundreds of people gathered Monday in Yemen to mourn the 40 children killed in a Saudi-led coalition airstrike last week, CNN reported.

The mass funeral featured photos of the children’s bloody faces beside their graves, according to the news outlet; there were reportedly signs that blamed the U.S. for the deaths.

Washington has provided the Saudi-led coalition with billions of dollars in arms sales, intelligence sharing and logistics as they fight Iran-backed Houthi rebels. The conflict began in 2015. 

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The boys, who ranged between 6- and 11-years-old, were on their way back from a school field trip when they got caught in the blast that killed 11 others and wounded 79, including 56 children.

“We never expected this to happen,” Abdel-llah Mohammad, the father of a 7-year-old boy killed in the blast, told CNN. “He walked out of the door with white clothes. He put on perfume and combed his hair before he left; he didn’t need to — he was a handsome boy. He did not know what was coming for him.” 

Secretary of Defense James MattisJames Norman MattisBiden courts veterans amid fallout from Trump military controversies Trump says he wanted to take out Syria's Assad but Mattis opposed it Gary Cohn: 'I haven't made up my mind' on vote for president in November MORE said Sunday that he was sending a general to help investigate what happened and backed the State Department’s call for the Saudi-led coalition to look into the strike.

Coalition spokesman Colonel Turki al-Malki told CNN that the airstrike was aimed at a “legitimate target.”

CNN footage showed some of the boys laughing and playing just hours before they were killed. 

The boys’ teacher, Yahya Hussein, was parking his car a little ways away from the bus when the airstrike hit.

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“I heard a loud explosion and there was dust and smoke everywhere," he said. "The scene can't be described — there was body parts and blood everywhere." 

One of the first medics on the scene was a father of one of the victims, Hussein Hussein Tayeb, according to a Houthi TV network.

“As soon as I arrived with others wanting to help out, we figured we had to quickly nurse the wounded because there was chaos,” Hussein told the network, according to CNN. “As I was nursing people, I lifted a body and found that it was Ahmed's face. I carried him and hugged him — he was my son.