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Saudi-Backed Coalition Admits Mistakes In Yemen’s School Bus Bombing

The Saudi Arabia-United Arab Emirates (UAE) stated that a bus bombing in Yemen last month that killed 51 (40 of whom were children) could not be justified. Both countries admit a mistake in the attack.

The Joint Incident Assessment Team (JIAT), the Saudi-UAE military alliance investigation body, conducted an investigation related to the airstrike that hit a school bus in Yemen. The strike occurred on August 9 in the province of Saada. The probe was started soon after the attack and ended on Saturday.

The JIAT said there was a mistake in the attack and vowed to punish whoever was responsible for the bombing.

“The Joint Forces Command of the Coalition expresses regret over the mistakes, extends its sympathies, condolences and solidarity to the families of the victims,” the statement released by the Saudi agency SPA said.

According to Mansour Ahmed al-Mansour, coalition lawyer, there was an error made prior to the airstrike. He added that the bus should  have not been bombed, but the order came late.

But he added that there were other incidents which the coalition was not fully responsible for.

The Yemen war erupted in 2015 when Houthi rebels expelled the elected president President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi’s government from the capital Sanaa and took control of most of the country.

The conflict has become worse after Saudi Arabia and its allies invaded one of the poorest countries in the Middle East to contain the influence of Iran, allegedly spread by the Houthi rebels, a claim that many considered “absurd’ after former president Ali Abdullah Saleh was killed in December 2017.

As of mid-January, more than 5,000 children were killed or injured and another 400,000 suffered from a severe malnutrition from the impact of the war, the UNICEF report said.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) claims the Saudi-led coalition commits a war crime

The Human Rights Watch (HRW) said that the attack targeting the school bus last month was an apparent war crime.

“The Saudi-led coalition’s attack on a bus full of young boys adds to its already gruesome track record of killing civilians at weddings, funerals, hospitals, and schools in Yemen,”  Bill Van Esveld, senior children’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch said.

The international rights watchdog interviewed 14 witnesses related to the airstrike that damaged the bus in Saada. According to them, the attack occurred before 8.30 am local time. An air bomb was dropped by the coalition in the market in Dhahyah, 20 kilometers from Saada.

The air bomb landed a few meters from the school bus filled with children and teachers. When the explosive material was dropped, the bus was parked in the front of a grocery store. Those witnesses said, there was no apparent military target in the area.

HRW also urges countries to stop selling arms to Saudi Arabia

Based on information obtained by several witnesses, the HRW supports the United Nations (U.N) independent investigation of human rights violations conducted by all conflicting parties in Yemen. Also, the rights organization urged other countries to stop selling weapons to Saudi Arabia and its allies.

“Countries with knowledge of this record that are supplying more bombs to the Saudis will be complicit in future deadly attacks on civilians,” Esveld continued.

In April, the Pentagon announced that the U.S agreed to sell weapons worth $1.3 billion to the oil rich nation. The Guardian reported on October 24, 2017, that the Riyadh administration bought weapons from the U.K worth £1.1  in the second quarter of that year.

According to munition experts, a bomb used to kill 40 Yemeni children in the school bus attack was a 500-pound (227kg) laser-guided MK 82 bomb manufactured by Lockheed Martin, one of the most reputed defense companies in the U.S

The U.N will host a peace talks in Geneva, Switzerland on September 6 involving all conflicting parties in Yemen. Despite the pessimism voiced by the government and rebel groups, a Yemen minister hopes that the upcoming meeting will provide an opportunity to build a trust that can lead to peace.

Yasmeen Rasidi

Yasmeen is a writer and political science graduate of the National University, Jakarta. She covers a variety of topics for Citizen Truth including the Asia and Pacific region, international conflicts and press freedom issues. Yasmeen had worked for Xinhua Indonesia and GeoStrategist previously. She writes from Jakarta, Indonesia.

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