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Euro-Med Monitor condemns Saudi ‘blind revenge’ strike in Yemen

February 18, 2020 at 3:33 pm

A destroyed prison, in which Houthi Ansarullah movement members withhold its prisoners, is seen after coalition forces led by Saudi Arabia organized an airstrike over it in Dhamar, Yemen on September 01, 2019. [Mohammed Hamoud/Anadolu Agency]

The Geneva-based Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor (Euro-Med) has condemned an air raid by the Saudi-led Coalition in Yemen on Saturday which killed 31 civilians. The organisation has described the attack as a violation of international humanitarian law and has called for an immediate investigation.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 31 civilians were killed and 12 were wounded during the attack in Al-Jawf governorate.

The air raid followed the downing of a Coalition Tornado fighter jet in the same province by a ground-to-air missile launched by air defence systems. This was confirmed by the pro-Houthi, Yemeni military spokesperson Yahya Saree, reported Al-Masirah.

The incident was also acknowledged by the Arab Coalition spokesperson, Turki Al-Malki, who said, “At 23:45 on Friday, 14 February, 2020, a Tornado fighter plane of the Royal Saudi Air Force crashed while on a mission of close air support to units of the National Army.”

Local reports claim that Coalition air forces targeted Yemeni civilians accompanied by Houthi fighters as they gathered to inspect the wreckage site. Euro-Med said that under the laws of war, parties “must do everything necessary to verify that the targets are valid military objects.”

According to the organisation, the indiscriminate attack was an “act of blind revenge” without the slightest regard to the principles of the rules of war, in particular in regard to distinction and proportionality. It has called on the international community to suspend arms sales immediately to “all parties” involved in the conflict.

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On Monday, however, Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal Bin Farhan Al-Saud urged the German government to end a ban on exporting weapons to the Kingdom, citing his country’s need to defend itself following last year’s attacks on Saudi oil installations. Although the Houthis claimed responsibility, Riyadh blamed Iran for those attacks.

In footage released by Houthi media of the Tornado jet being hit, two Saudi crewmen can be seen ejecting from the aircraft before being captured.

One graphic image circulating on social media shows one of the captured Saudi airmen with severe injuries, although it is presumed that he is still alive. For exploiting the airmen in this way, Al-Malki accused the Houthi forces of “violating international humanitarian law and its conventional rules” and has charged them with the responsibility of ensuring their safety.

The Houthi movement, officially known as Ansar Allah, has been in an alliance with the majority of Yemen’s armed forces, which aided their takeover of the capital Sanaa in 2014. This led to the Saudi-led Coalition taking military action in March 2015 in a bid to reinstate the exiled Yemeni President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, who currently lives in the Saudi capital Riyadh.

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