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US-Backed Saudi Airstrikes Kill Hundreds in Yemen War Crimes: UK Provides the Missiles


November 29, 2015
Middle East Eye and Agencies & Mary Atkinson / Middle East Eye

Human Rights Watch alleges that Saudi Arabian air strikes in Yemen on November 27 killed at least 309 civilians in a series of attacks that clearly constitute war crimes. Meanwhile, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch say that a UK-made missile was used to destroy a civilian factory in September.

http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/watchdog-saudi-led-yemen-strikes-illegally-kill-civilians-1944468218

On November 13, 130 people were killed in six attacks in Paris.
On November 27, 309 people were killed in ten attacks in Yemen.
Both were acts of terrorism that targeted and killed innocent civilians.
The first war crime was committed by agents of the Islamic State.
The larger war crime was committed by the US-backed Saudi government.



Saudi-led Yemen Strikes Illegally Kill 309 Civilians: Human Rights Watch
Middle East Eye and Agencies

(November 28, 2015) -- The Saudi-led coalition conducted at least 10 air strikes in Yemen on Friday that broke the laws of war and killed civilians, according to Human Rights Watch.

In a new report written by the watchdog, an estimated 2,500 Yemeni civilians have died in coalition strikes since March.

The UAE and other regional powers including Qatar, Egypt and Morocco have joined a Saudi-led coalition that has been bombing Yemen for nine months, in an attempt to crush Houthi rebels who overran much of the country last September.

Both sides have been accused of large-scale human rights violations during the conflict, which has killed over 5,700 people, at least half of whom are thought to be civilians.

Earlier this month UK Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said he would halt UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia if the kingdom is found to have breached international law during the intervention.

Riyadh has steadfastly denied earlier accounts of indiscriminate bombing, but Friday's detailed report cites a wealth of witness testimony.

The strikes in the report killed at least 309 civilians, wounded at least 414 and breached the allies' obligation to investigate alleged war crimes.

"Human Rights Watch found either no evident military target or that the attack failed to distinguish civilians from military objectives," the report said. "Human Rights Watch is unaware of any investigations by Saudi Arabia or other coalition members in these or other reported cases."

The 10 suspect attacks took place in Houthi-controlled Sanaa, Amran, Hajja, Hodeida and Ibb and hit residential houses, market places, a factory and a civilian prison.

Washington has given strong diplomatic backing to the Saudi offensive and approved a $1.29 billion sale of bombs to Saudi Arabia earlier this month.

A US State Department spokeswoman said it was aware of the Human Rights Watch report and that "any loss of civilian life in a conflict is tragic." She blamed the Houthis for starting the war and noted that the report also accuses the rebels of shelling civilian areas.

But the spokeswoman added: "We have asked the Saudi government to investigate all credible reports of civilian casualties resulting from coalition-led airstrikes and, if confirmed, to address the factors that led to them."

Britain and France are also major arms suppliers to Saudi Arabia and its Emirati ally.

Human Rights Watch urged the United Nations Security Council to investigate its allegations and to remind the warring parties of their legal responsibilities.


UK Rules Out Probe over British Weapon Used in Yemen Air Strike
Mary Atkinson / Middle East Eye

(November 27, 2015) -- The UK government will not launch a special probe into the use of its weapons in the Yemen war, despite reports that a UK-made missile destroyed a civilian factory in September in violation of international law.

A joint investigation by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch published on Wednesday found that a ceramics factory in Yemen's Sanaa governorate appeared to be producing only civilian goods when it was destroyed by a PGM-500 missile made by British firm Marconi.

One person was killed and two injured in the strike on 23 September. The missile used in the strike was supplied in the 1990s, and armaments of its kind are in service with the UAE's air force.

Witnesses told Amnesty International and HRW that the man killed in the strike, 28-year-old Abdel Karim al-Sawary, was hit by shrapnel as he fled the area. At the time, Sawary was working as a guard at a makeshift detention facility run by Houthi rebels, the probable target of the strike, which was 140 meters from the factory compound.

The four strikes that completely destroyed the factory left the nearby detention facility unscathed. The strike did, however, cause minor damage to a nearby hospital.

Attacks such as these, which fail to distinguish between civilian and military targets, are a violation of international humanitarian law, according to the report.

The UAE and other regional powers including Qatar, Egypt and Morocco are part of a Saudi-led coalition that has been bombing Yemen for nine months, in an attempt to crush Houthi rebels who overran much of the country last September.

Both sides have been accused of large-scale human rights violations during the conflict, which has killed over 5,700 people, at least half of whom are thought to be civilians.

Earlier this month UK Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said he would halt UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia if the kingdom is found to have breached international law during the intervention.

"We need to see proper investigations," Hammond told the BBC's Newsnight programme.

Responding to fresh allegations that UK-made weapons were used in coalition strikes that breached international law, the British Foreign Office stressed that it operates "one of the most robust arms export control regimes in the world."

However, asked whether the UK will now launch a specific investigation into the use of British-made weapons in Yemen, a spokesperson for the government instead said that it "monitors alleged international humanitarian law [IHL] violations".

The spokesperson says the UK has "repeatedly received assurances of compliance with IHL" from Saudi Arabia, which is leading the coalition.

"We are offering advice and training to the Saudis to demonstrate best practice and to help ensure continued compliance with international humanitarian law."

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

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