Saudi Arabia to probe civilian deaths in Yemen air strikes

1 February 2016 (Last Updated February 1st, 2016 06:45)

The Saudi Arabia-led coalition has set up a high-level independent committee to look into the allegations that air strikes on Yemen killed civilians in the war-stricken African country.

MSF

The Saudi Arabia-led coalition has set up a high-level independent committee to look into the allegations that air strikes on Yemen killed civilians in the war-stricken African country.

The coalition said that it regretted any civilian casualties in Yemen and is working with Western countries to improve their target mechanisms.

In a report on Yemen, the UN has said that 119 sorties by airplanes of the coalition violated international humanitarian law, reported Reuters.

Saudi Arabia has been resorting to air strikes on Yemen since March 2015 to fight Houthi rebels, said to be supported by Iran.

The investigation committee established by Saudi Arabia will include senior officers, military advisers and experts in the field of weapons and international humanitarian law. It will make recommendations on how such incidents may be avoided in future.

Coalition spokesman Brig. Gen. Ahmed Asiri accepted that an air strike in October caused severe damage to a hospital run by France's Doctors Without Borders / Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in Haydan District in Saada Governorate.

Asiri was quoted by the Wall Street Journal as saying: "The pilot evaluated the situation and found he had a good chance to attack the target.

"He attacked the target, which resulted in collateral damage that caused the destruction of a large part of the hospital.

"After the coalition command confirmed that a mistake was made, we reached out to MSF and invited them to visit Saudi Arabia."

"After the coalition command confirmed that a mistake was made, we reached out to MSF and invited them to visit Saudi Arabia.

Last week, MSF has reported that its medical activities have been bombed four times in less than three months, with two hospitals, a clinic and an ambulance coming under fire.

After the October attack, an MSF mobile clinic was hit by an airstrike on 2 December in Taiz's Al Houban District, and Shiara Hospital in Saada Province was bombed on 10 January, killing at least seven people.

A series of airstrikes in Saada Governorate on 21 January killed at least six, including the driver of an ambulance from the MSF-supported Al Gomhoury Hospital, the organisation said.


Image: The remains of an MSF-run hospital attacked in October. Photo: courtesy of Yann Geay / MSF.