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Saudi-led alliance against Yemen 'violates international law'

July 1, 2015 at 12:36 pm

Human Rights Watch has said that Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen which destroyed houses, markets and a school, and killed dozens in May, could constitute war crimes, Today’s Opinion has reported. Several airstrikes by the nine-nation coalition “appeared to violate international humanitarian law, also known as the laws of war, and resulted in numerous civilian deaths and injuries,” explained HRW.

Sarah Leah Whitson, director of the rights body for the Middle East, said on Tuesday that these attacks “are considered a violation of war law” and need to be investigated. She said that the strikes on Sa’da between April 6 and May 11 caused the death of 59 people, including 14 women and 35 children.

The HRW report stated that hundreds of buildings were affected, including six houses, a school, a cultural centre, five markets and an oil station. In one of the strikes, which took place on 6 May, 27 people from one family were killed, including 17 children. “These strikes are not only illegal because they do not target military bases, but also because they complicate the life of the civilians who are in need of food, water and oil.”

HRW said that it has sent a letter to Saudi Arabia calling for the investigation of these violations, but has received no reply. It called on the coalition to follow the law, investigate alleged violations and provide appropriate compensation to civilian victims. The group also called on the United States, which has provided logistical and intelligence support to the coalition, to press for an investigation.

Two of the organisation’s investigators said that they watched Houthis using anti-aircraft weapons in civilian neighbourhoods. The organisation called for the Houthis to avoid using such weapons in populated areas.