An international rights group said the Saudi Arabia-United Arab Emirates (UAE) alliance fighting Shiite rebels in Yemen has failed to redress civilian victims and conduct credible investigations into alleged war crimes committed there.
Friday's 90-page report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the Saudi-led coalition's "sham investigations" have fallen short of "international standards regarding transparency, impartiality, and independence," according to The Associated Press (AP).
"For more than two years, the coalition has claimed that JIAT [its investigative body] was credibly investigating allegedly unlawful air strikes, but the investigators were doing little more than covering up war crimes," HRW's Middle East director, Sarah Leah Whitson, said in a statement. Whitson also noted that countries selling arms to Saudi Arabia aren't protected from "being complicit in serious violations in Yemen."
Civilians were killed in western Yemen on Thursday in a missile strike for which the Houthi rebels and a Saudi-led coalition fighting them traded blame. The rebel-run Saba News Agency said women and children were among at least 31 people killed or wounded in an air strike that hit a bus and a home in the Al-Durayhimi district, south of the strategic port city of Hodeida.
But the UAE, a key partner in the Saudi-led coalition, claimed that the Houthis launched a "ballistic [missile] made in Iran."
A child was killed and dozens of others were wounded, three of them seriously, according to Emirati state news agency WAM. It was not immediately possible to independently verify the accounts given by the two sides.
The Al-Durayhimi area lies some 20 kilometers south of Hodeida, and has seen two weeks of fighting between the rebels and pro-government forces backed by the UAE. But the wider offensive to retake Hodeida from the Houthis has been halted pending the outcome of negotiations, the coalition has said.
The latest civilian deaths come after 40 children and 11 adults were killed in an attack in northern Yemen earlier this month.
The Aug. 9 air strike sparked international condemnation and the Saudi-led coalition announced an investigation. The coalition has been accused of causing numerous civilian casualties in the civil war in Yemen. It has admitted a small number of mistakes, but accuses the Houthis of routinely using civilians as human shields.The Houthis seized control of Sanaa in September 2014, and later pushed south toward the port city of Aden. The Saudi-led coalition entered the conflict in March 2015 and has faced criticism for a campaign of airstrikes that has killed civilians and destroyed hospitals and markets. The coalition led by Saudi Arabia intervened in support of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi as he fled into exile in the face of a rebel offensive in 2015. It has recaptured most of the south and stretches of the Red Sea coast but the capital Sanaa and much of the north remain in the hands of the rebels. The Houthis, meanwhile, have laid land mines, killing and wounding civilians. They have also targeted religious minorities and imprisoned opponents. The stalemated war has killed more than 10,000 people.