US, European arms used to attack Yemeni civilians, report says

Published 08.03.2019 00:59

The coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have been using weapons produced in Europe and the U.S. to kill and wound hundreds of civilians in Yemen, according to a report released by a Yemen-based human rights group.

In a report entitled "Day of Judgment: The Role of the U.S. and Europe in Civilian Death, Destruction, and Trauma in Yemen," some 27 unlawful coalition attacks from April 2015 to April 2018 were documented. During the attacks, 203 civilians were reportedly killed and at least 749 injured.

"Of the 27 attacks, 22 likely involved weapons produced in the U.S., two attacks likely involved weapons produced in the U.K. and three attacks likely involved weapons with parts produced in both the U.S. and U.K.," the report said.

"It is clear that Saudi and Emirati promises to minimize harm to civilians were empty," said Radhya al-Mutawakel, chairperson of the independent human rights group Mwatana for Human Rights (MHR), as reported by Al-Jazeera.

"This report demonstrates a pattern of deadly coalition attacks involving weapons provided by Western states, particularly the U.S. the U.K. and others should immediately halt arms transfers and all other forms of assistance to coalition forces for use in Yemen."

Amid long-standing differences among European countries over arms control, Britain and France have criticized Germany's stance after the German coalition government agreed to ban future arms sales to Riyadh in November. The two countries say the ban prevents them from selling jointly-developed equipment with German components to the Gulf nation.

In addition, Spain's state-owned export agency, Defex was accused of corruption, money-laundering and other crimes in connection with Spanish arms sales, including tank, artillery shells and automatic weapon ammunition, to Saudi Arabia.Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, previously the former Saudi defense minister, and Saudi Arabia's allies launched Operation Decisive Storm in March 2015. The ongoing war has resulted in the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, with an estimated 24 million people, close to 80 percent of the population, in need of assistance and protection in Yemen, according to the U.N. The World Health Organization (WHO) says some 10,000 people have been killed since the coalition intervened in 2015, but rights groups state the death toll could be five times as high.

Many atrocities have been reported so far, which reveals multiple violations of human rights. Saudi airstrikes have hit markets and hospitals, killing civilians. The U.S. is, by far, the largest supplier of weapons to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and its support for the coalition has been crucial to the war in Yemen. According to the U.S. Department of Defense, transferring military equipment to third parties breaks the terms of the Saudi-led coalition's arms deals with the U.S. Following the report, a U.S. defense official confirmed that an investigation into the issue was ongoing.

American lawmakers, angered by the Oct. 2 assassination and dismemberment of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, have been pushing to withdraw U.S. support. However, the latest report revealed last month shows that the U.S. is still supporting the Saudi-led military coalition in Yemen, an American army general told Agence France-Presse (AFP), days after lawmakers voted to end involvement in Riyadh's war effort.

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