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Accused of War Crimes in Yemen, Saudi Arabia Sets Up Panel and Clears Itself of Wrongdoing

Published: September 13, 2017
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Source: Haaretz

 

A panel set up by the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen to investigate civilian casualties found a series of deadly air strikes largely justified, citing the presence of armed militiamen at the homes, schools and clinics that were targeted.

The Joint Incidents Assessment Team said on Tuesday it had discovered mistakes in only three of 15 incidents it reviewed, and maintained the coalition had acted in accordance with international humanitarian law. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has long been running the coalition fighting in Yemen as the country's defense minister, a title he still retains.

Saudi Arabia and its allies have been bombing the Iran-aligned Houthi movement since the Houthis seized much of northern Yemen in 2015.

The Houthis have in turn fired rockets towards Saudi cities and villages. They say their attacks are in response to Saudi strikes on Yemeni cities and villages. The war has killed more than 10,000 people.

The coalition has been repeatedly criticised for civilian casualties. Human Rights Watch accused it on Tuesday of war crimes, saying air strikes that hit family homes and a grocery store were carried out either deliberately or recklessly, causing indiscriminate loss of civilian lives.

The United Nations said on Monday it had verified 5,144 civilian deaths in the war, mainly from coalition bombardment, and an international investigation was urgently needed.

"The minimal efforts made towards accountability over the past year are insufficient to respond to the gravity of the continuing and daily violations involved in this conflict," U.N. human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad al Hussein said in Geneva.

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