Creating new perspectives since 2009

Report: Saudi Arabia targeting civilians using ‘double tap’ air strikes

September 3, 2019 at 1:10 pm

Damaged buildings are seen after Saudi Arabia carried out air strikes in Yemen on 1 September 2019 [Mohammed Hamoud/Anadolu Agency]

Saudi Arabia may have used “double tap” air strikes on locations with a heavy civilian presence according to a report released yesterday by the investigations site Bellingcat.

The tactic, which seeks to maximise the loss of civilian casualties, can be described as firing missiles followed by another round once rescue workers and others respond to the scene.

Evidence compiled in the investigation reveals civilian targets which have included a funeral hall, marketplace, wedding, mosque, restaurant and a residential area.

Many of the attacks occurred during the daytime, when such areas would be at their busiest. Researchers were also unable to identify military sites in many of the locations they investigated.

“The attacks on these locations appeared to kill and injure far more civilians than was proportionate to any likely military advantage. In some cases, such egregious civilian harm appears entirely foreseeable, suggesting that members of the [Saudi led] coalition have intentionally conducted indiscriminate or disproportionate attacks,” the report said.

READ: Over 100 killed in Saudi bombing of Yemen prison

Bellingcat continued  that any attempts by the coalition to investigate its military activities are “purely token in nature” and only in response to “overwhelming international outrage”.

The report comes at a time when the British government asked the Court of Appeal to set aside a ruling which deemed British arms sales to Saudi Arabia as unlawful, calling for an immediate suspension. Andrew Smith from Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) said that a delay in the case would lead to “more illegal arms sales and more atrocities”.

Saudi Arabia has been leading a coalition of Arab states which began launching air strikes in Yemen in March 2015 to restore to power internationally-backed President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who was driven from the capital in 2014 by Houthi fighters and militias backed by Iran.

New figures show the conflict’s total death toll is fast approaching the 100,000 mark.

READ: Saudi-led coalition downs Houthi drone from Yemen