by: Malak Ali
The airstrike waged by the Saudi-led coalition on a children’s bus in Saada Province in Yemen, early last month, was a clear war crime, Human Rights Watch said, while the US-backed coalition admitted that the raid was unjustified.
The organization said in a statement that the Saudi-led coalition carried out several raids in Yemen since 2015 in violation of the laws of war and that these raids were implemented without adequate follow-up investigations.
On the other hand, the Watch confirmed that these raids put arms suppliers under the risk of complicity in war crimes, and invited the countries that supply arms to Riyadh to freeze their sales immediately, noting that it identified ammunition of US origin used by the forces of the Saudi-led coalition in 24 locations in Yemen.
The prominent human rights organization concluded its statement by calling for support for the UN investigation into the violations committed by Saudi Arabia and its allies.
Confession and apology
The Saudi/US/UAE alliance has admitted yesterday that the raid on the children bus in Saada was unjustified, and was based on intelligence information that is wrong.
“The Joint Forces Command expresses its regret for these mistakes and extends its condolences to the families of the victims and their solidarity with them and wishes the injured speedy recovery,” the coalition statement said on a Saudi news agency.
In a precedent, the Saudi-led coalition announced its acceptance of the results of its team’s assessment of the incidents. It expressed regret for the mistakes and vowed to take the necessary legal measures to hold accountable those found to have committed errors.
Furthermore, the Saudi-led coalition’s confession caused wide ridicule after what it called a “mistake” in air raids on Saada Province, which led to the death of dozens, the majority of which are children. This late confession came after a previous allegation stating that the Saudi American raid did not hit a school bus but rather a group of enemy experts.
In fact, the Saudi-led coalition recognized the horrific massacre of Dahyan after the UN Panel of Experts announced the results of its investigations into the abuses and crimes committed by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen for nearly four years.
The raid, which was carried out by an aircraft belonging to the coalition at the school bus while it was at a local market in Saada province, led to the deaths of 51 people, including 40 children, and wounded 79 people, including 56 children.
Since the start of the Saudi-led war on 2015, human rights groups have accused the Saudi-led coalition of causing the deaths of hundreds of civilians with strikes that hit civilian targets.
Meanwhile, the report of the Panel of Experts confirmed that the air raids of the coalition targeted civilian boats belonging to Yemeni fishermen off the shores of Hodeidah, killing dozens and leaving many others as disappeared, in addition to killing 32 Somali refugees in a raid waged by the coalition.
The report pointed out that Saudi forces routinely detain Yemeni fishermen, where 148 fishermen were arrested by Coalition Forces and transferred to Saudi Arabian detention facilities, isolating them from the outside world.
The report also said that the Saudi-led coalition imposed strict maritime and air restrictions that had a devastating effect on the civilian population and on commercial shipping, causing an increase in the cost of delivering these materials to the markets and effectively closing Sana’a International Airport to civil aviation flights, preventing Yemenis from accessing health care abroad.
Meanwhile, the expert report reviewed 11 incidents in which air raids targeted popular markets, one of which was a terrible incident that killed 107 civilians, including 25 children, during coalition raids that targeted “Khamees Market”.
According to the report, a number of air strikes damaged MSF facilities, the latest of which was an air raid that hit a new cholera treatment center in the district of Abes in the province of Hajjah. A number of civilian gatherings were also targeted at funerals and weddings in Sana’a during the funeral of the father of a senior official.
The United Nations estimates that the war, which has been going on for more than three years, has claimed more than 10,000 lives, including more than 2,000 children.