Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com & Reuters – 2015-10-27 20:26:57
Saudi Warplanes Destroy MSF Hospital in Yemen
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(October 27, 2015) — Adding to concerns about Saudi attacks on civilians in Yemen, an overnight air raid against the capital city of Sanaa pounded a residential district, hitting several homes, a girl’s school, and destroying a Doctors Without Borders (MSF) hospital.
MSF reported the facility was struck multiple times and left in “wreckage.” The first strike hit the operations theater of the hospital, which fortunately was empty at night, and the staff had enough time to evacuate for the most part before a second missile went careening into the maternity ward.
Two MSF staffers were wounded, but there appear to have been no deaths in the hospital strike, though casualties out of the surrounding area are so far not certain. This is the second MSF facility destroyed in an airstrike this month, after the US destroyed one in Afghanistan.
MSF reported they’d provided the coordinates of all facilities in Yemen to the Saudi-led coalition two weeks ago, specifically for fear that the wreckless air campaign would mistakenly hit them. MSF says that whatever the circumstances, the strike amounts to a war crime.
Saudi officials, as usual, are offering no real details, and after silence on the matter for most of the day they issued a blanket denial, insisting their were no airstrikes anywhere near that district, even though several were reported in the area and the Saudi coalition is the only one launching airstrikes.
Yemeni MSF Hospital Bombed, Saudi-led Coalition Denies Responsibility
Noah Browning / Reuters
DUBAI (October 27, 2015) — A hospital in north Yemen run by the medical aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) was destroyed late on Monday by a missile strike, MSF said, but the Saudi-led coalition denied that its planes had hit the hospital.
A Saudi-led Arab coalition intervened in Yemen’s civil war in March to try to restore the government after it was toppled by Iran-allied Houthi forces, but a mounting civilian death toll has alarmed human rights groups.
“Our hospital in the Heedan district of Saada governorate was hit several times. Fortunately, the first hit damaged the operations theater while it was empty and the staff were busy with people in the emergency room. They just had time to run off as another missile hit the maternity ward,” MSF country director Hassan Boucenine told Reuters by telephone from Yemen.
“It could be a mistake, but the fact of the matter is it’s a war crime. There’s no reason to target a hospital. We provided (the coalition) with all of our GPS coordinates about two weeks ago.” He said at least two staff members had been hurt by flying debris.
The attack occurred on Monday night in north Yemen’s Saada province, a region controlled by Houthi forces. The state news agency Saba, run by the Houthis, said other air strikes had hit a nearby girls’ school and damaged several civilian homes.
It was not immediately possible to confirm that report.
MSF said the hospital had been hit by missiles from coalition jets. Coalition spokesman Brigadier General Ahmed Asseri said in an electronic message that coalition jets had been in action over Saada governorate. But, when asked if they had hit the hospital, he said: “Not at all”, and that only an investigation would show the cause of the blasts.
FIGHTING IN TAIZ
Elsewhere, medical sources and a local official said 13 Houthi fighters and six fighters loyal to Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi had been killed on Tuesday in fighting, including coalition air strikes, in the southwestern city of Taiz. Reuters could not independently verify the accounts.
UNICEF said the hospital in Saada was the 39th health center hit in Yemen since March. “More children in Yemen may well die from a lack of medicines and healthcare than from bullets and bombs,” its executive director Anthony Lake said in a statement.
UN spokesman Stephanie Dujarric said Ban was calling for “a prompt, effective and impartial investigation in order to ensure accountability” and had urged all parties in the conflict to “immediately cease all operations, including air strikes”. Twenty-two people including 12 MSF staff were killed when an MSF hospital was hit by an American air strike in Kunduz in northern Afghanistan on Oct. 3.
US President Barack Obama apologized for that attack, but MSF continues to call for an independent humanitarian commission to investigate what it calls a war crime.
Seven months of air strikes in Yemen by Saudi Arabia and other US-allied Gulf Arab countries have yet to loosen the Houthis’ grip on the capital Sanaa. The southern port city of Aden is the nominal seat of Hadi’s government, which returned from exile in Saudi Arabia but then mostly went back to Riyadh after a wave of Islamic State attacks in the city three weeks ago.
The United States and Britain are supporting the coalition with intelligence and both are long-time arms suppliers to their Gulf Arab allies.
More than 5,600 people have died in Yemen’s conflict. Shuttle diplomacy by a United Nations envoy has yet to secure a political solution or reduce the intensity of combat.
Additional reporting by Mohammed Ghobari and Mostafa Hashem in Cairo, Yara Bayoumy in Dubai, Michelle Nichols at the United Nations and Angus McDowall in Riyadh; Writing by Noah Browning and Yara Bayoumy; Editing by Kevin Liffey
Growing White House Rift Over Saudi Arabia’s
Huge Civilian Toll Bombing Yemen
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(October 26, 2015) — Sources within the Obama Administration are reportedly increasingly at odds over the Saudi war in Yemen, which the US has been participating in, and particularly the huge civilian death toll of Saudi airstrikes, with official estimates of about 1,500 civilians killed in Saudi airstrikes alone in the war.
But while those familiar with internal conversations say the White House has been “increasingly frustrated,” and has even privately complained about the toll to the Saudis, they also see the US “walking on eggshells” with public comments about the war, that even some officials are starting to see it as de facto support for Saudi war crimes.
Which as a practical matter it is, since the US has been refueling those Saudi warplanes for their airstrikes, and has also at times participated in the naval blockade that has brought much of Yemen to the brink of famine. Still, it’s clear when officials signed on for the Saudi war, they didn’t anticipate this.
Which may be the biggest problem, and why so many are up in arms. The US sees placating the Saudis as so desperately important right now that they feel as though they don’t dare criticize the enormous civilian toll of the war, a goal which really picked up amid trying to sell the P5+1 nuclear deal with Iran.
The US has been openly trying to pay off opponents of the deal, chiefly Israel, to the tune of several billion dollars to acquiesce on the pact, but in the case of the Saudis it seems this is boiling down to the US looking the other way every time a wedding party is bombed or an airport destroyed.
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