US-backed Saudi Airstrikes in Yemen Kill 136 Civilians in 11 Days
December 20, 2017
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com & The Associated Press
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes against targets across northern Yemen have continued since the early 2015 invasion, and civilians have borne the brunt of the strikes. Escalating attacks suggest a disturbing trend, with the UN High Commission for Human Rights expressing deep concern. Not only are the civilian death tolls mounting, but the nature of the strikes has been increasingly troubling. Recent strikes have hit a hospital, a prison, a TV station, and a carload of women returning from a wedding.
Saudi Airstrikes Kill 136 Civilians Over Just 11 Days
Saudi Targeting Increasingly Reckless
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
YEMEN (December 19, 2017) – Saudi Arabia's airstrikes against targets across northern Yemen have been a consistent reality since the early 2015 invasion, and civilians have borne the brunt of the strikes from the start. Escalating attacks, however, suggest a disturbing trend, with the UN High Commission for Human Rights expressing deep concern.
That's because not only are the civilian death tolls mounting, with 136 people killed in airstrikes in 11 days, but the nature of the strikes has been increasingly troubling, suggesting less and less Saudi care in targeting.
One strike hit a hospital in Hodeidah, while another hit a carload of women returning home from a wedding. Still another hit a TV station. The biggest problem, however, was the December 13 strike against a prison in Sanaa.
The UN assessed 43 killed in the Saudi attack on the prison, and every single one of them was claimed to have been loyal to pro-Saudi forces. UN spokesman Rupert Colville said this was probably a mistake, and that "they weren't intended to kill prisoners from their own side."
But they did, and they killed a lot of them. The fact that bombing a prison full of allies would kill some of those allies shouldn't have been lost of the Saudis, and further adds to doubts about Saudi targeting in general.
UN: Coalition Airstrikes Kill 136 in Yemen in 11 Days
Jamey Keaten / Associated Press
GENEVA (December 19, 2017) -- The UN human rights office said Tuesday it has verified the killings of 136 Yemeni civilians and other non-combatants in airstrikes carried out over 11 days this month by a Saudi-led military coalition batting Yemen's Shiite rebels.
Spokesman Rupert Colville of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said UN officials are "deeply concerned" about a surge in civilian casualties from airstrikes following the killing in early December of Yemen's former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Saleh was killed by the rebels, known as Houthis, after apparently switching alliances and turning against his former allies. Colville said the killings occurred between Dec. 6 and Dec. 16 in four northern provinces.
The airstrikes, which also injured 87 people, hit Yemen's rebel-run TV channel, a hospital in the Red Sea port city of Hodeida, and a wedding party -- a strike that killed one woman and nine children, the rights office said.
Seven strikes on a police compound in Sanaa on Dec. 13 killed at least 43 people when the compound's prison grounds were hit, the office said. All those victims were reportedly detainees loyal to President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who is supported by the coalition.
"I think one can assume that that was a mistake," Colville said. "They weren't intending to kill prisoners from their own side."
After originally indicating that the 11-day confirmed death toll was 115, Colville later said it had increased to 136 to include a strike on Friday on a farmhouse in Hodeida governorate that left 20 people dead -- including 14 children.
Meanwhile, hundreds of world figures urged the leaders of the United States, France and Britain on Tuesday to stop "stoking the flames of war" in impoverished Yemen. The statement, signed by 355 high-profile figures, marked the 1,000th day of the war, which has turned the poorest Arab country into the world's largest humanitarian crisis.
The signatories included eight Nobel peace laureates, religious leaders, Western lawmakers and rights defenders, as well as US Congresswomen Barbara Lee and Pramila Jayapal, and Congressman Ro Khanna, all Democrats.
"To prevent further catastrophe and famine, Yemen needs an immediate cease-fire; an end to all blockages on access for food, fuel and medical supplies; and investment in a new, inclusive peace process," the statement read.
It appealed to President Donald Trump, British Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron.
"If you don't want the burden of the lives of thousands more Yemeni children on your hands, then the time to act is now. Yemen can't wait any longer," it said.
The appeal also called on the UN Security Council to press Saudi Arabia and its ally the United Arab Emirates, the main pillars of the coalition, to end the war in Yemen. The US-backed coalition is seeking to restore Yemen's internationally recognized government to power.
Over the past three years, more than 10,000 people have been killed and three million displaced amid the Saudi-led coalition's air campaign against the Iranian-backed Houthis and their allies.
Associated Press writers Samy Magdy in Cairo and Ahmed al-Haj in Sanaa, Yemen, contributed to this report.
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