Arab Coalition Explicitly Refutes Allegations by Aid Orgs in Houthi Stronghold of Saada

The specialized team to assess the incidents committed by the Saudi-led Arab Coalition has explicitly refuted the allegations made by an international agency that the coalition airstrikes caused civilian causalities in the Houthi militia stronghold of Saada.

The Joint Incident Assessment Team (JIAT) defended on Wednesday the performance of the Saudi-led Arab coalition to restore legitimacy to Yemen in its operations in Yemen, saying they adhered to international law and the Geneva conventions.

The official spokesperson of JITA Legal Counselor Mansour Al-Turki said four allegations were submitted by international agencies on alleged mistakes committed by the coalition during military operations inside Yemen.

During a press conference in the capital of Riyadh, al-Turki cited the case No. 108, in which Amnesty International stated in its October 2015 report that “some victims were killed as they were trying to flee to safety. A witness told Amnesty International that six members of his family were killed when the car they were travelling in was struck by coalition forces around June 4 in the middle of the day.

The car was by the petrol station near the political security building on the Gharaz Road, next to the specialized hospital, when a first airstrike hit the station. A second airstrike subsequently hit the car, where seven people were killed.

The witness told researchers that later that evening he heard on television that coalition forces announced the killing of a Houthi leader. He believed from the description that they were referring to his brother. However, he maintained that his brother was neither a leader nor a member of the Houthis.” The report referenced the coordinates: 17°00’21.1″N 43°39’53.0″E.

The Joint Incidents Assessment Team has vetted the possibility of the incident, and following verification of all related documents; including procedures and Rules of Engagement, Daily Mission Schedule, After Mission Report, satellite imagery, evidence evaluation and a thorough study of the location of the allegation, identified by the claimant as coordinates: 17°00’21.1″N 43°39’53.0″E, JIAT identifies the location as a main road connecting al-Talh) and Saada cities, 12 kilometers north of Saada.

Following JIAT’s review of executed missions on the date of the allegation, it was found that the closest mission carried out by coalition forces on June 4, 2015 was against a military target (radars and missile launchers) outside Saada city, and 6 kilometers from the alleged location in a mountainous, building-free area.

It was proven to JIAT, following a review of the After Action Review of the executing formation on the date of the allegation, that the bombs engaged the legitimate military target in a precise, direct hit. Satellite imagery of the alleged location on December 23, 2015 showed no sign of airstrike damage to the location mentioned in the allegation.

As a result, JIAT finds that the coalition forces did not target the Saada gas station and vehicle mentioned in the Amnesty report.

JIAT also confirms the validity of the coalition air force procedures in targeting a radar and missile launchers, and that they were carried out in accordance with the customary International Humanitarian Law.

Asharq Alawsat

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