Arab coali­tion to probe Ye­men fu­neral car­nage

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

The Saudi-led coali­tion fight­ing rebels in Ye­men said yes­ter­day it will in­ves­ti­gate an air raid that killed more than 140 peo­ple at a fu­neral, af­ter Wash­ing­ton an­nounced it was re­view­ing sup­port for the al­liance.

The Iran-backed Huthi rebels blamed the coali­tion for Satur­day’s at­tack, one of the dead­li­est since it launched a mil­i­tary cam­paign against the Shi­ite in­sur­gents in March 2015. The at­tack could fur­ther sour US-Saudi ties al­ready strained over the coali­tion’s mil­i­tary in­ter­ven­tion which is sus­pected of caus­ing al­most half of the more than 4,000 civil­ian deaths in Ye­men’s con­flict.

It also risks em­bar­rass­ing Wash­ing­ton, which has ve­he­mently crit­i­cised Moscow over the heavy civil­ian death toll from Rus­sian air raids in sup­port of Syria’s regime in Aleppo city. Af­ter ini­tially deny­ing any re­spon­si­bil­ity, the coali­tion said it was ready to launch a probe into the “re­gret­table and painful” strike, which the UN said also wounded more than 525 peo­ple.

“The coali­tion will im­me­di­ately in­ves­ti­gate this case along with... ex­perts from the United States who par­tic­i­pated in pre­vi­ous in­ves­ti­ga­tions,” it said. “The coali­tion is also will­ing to pro­vide the in­ves­ti­ga­tion team with any data and in­for­ma­tion re­lated to its mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions to­day, at the in­ci­dent’s lo­ca­tion and the sur­round­ing ar­eas.”

UN chief Ban Ki-Moon de­manded a “prompt and im­par­tial” probe. “Those re­spon­si­ble for the at­tack must be brought to jus­tice,” he said. The Huthis ac­cused the coali­tion of a “mas­sacre”, say­ing its planes hit a gath­er­ing of hun­dreds mourn­ing the death of the fa­ther of rebel in­te­rior min­is­ter Jalal al-Rowais­han.

They did not say if Rowais­han was in the build­ing at the time, nor did they in­di­cate if other se­nior fig­ures were at­tend­ing the fu­neral. But Sanaa mayor Ab­del Qader Hi­lal was among those killed, said the rebels’ Al­masirah tele­vi­sion.

Protest against Saudi, US

Thou­sands of an­gry protesters took to the streets of Sanaa on Sun­day, chant­ing slo­gans against Saudi Ara­bia and the United States. Riyadh’s key ally Wash­ing­ton said it had launched an “im­me­di­ate re­view” of sup­port to the Arab coali­tion. “We are deeply dis­turbed by re­ports of to­day’s air strike on a fu­neral hall in Ye­men, which, if con­firmed, would con­tinue the trou­bling se­ries of at­tacks strik­ing Yemeni civil­ians,” said White House Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil spokesman Ned Price.

“In light of this and other re­cent in­ci­dents, we have ini­ti­ated an im­me­di­ate re­view of our al­ready sig­nif­i­cantly re­duced sup­port to the Saudi-led coali­tion and are pre­pared to ad­just our sup­port so as to bet­ter align with US prin­ci­ples, val­ues and in­ter­ests. “US se­cu­rity co­op­er­a­tion with Saudi Ara­bia is not a blank cheque,” Price said, and called for an “im­me­di­ate” cease­fire. In Au­gust, the US mil­i­tary an­nounced it had slashed its num­ber of in­tel­li­gence ad­vis­ers sup­port­ing the coali­tion fol­low­ing con­cerns over civil­ian ca­su­al­ties. — AFP

SANAA: A Yemeni man who was wounded in an air strike on a fu­neral the pre­vi­ous day lies on a hos­pi­tal bed yes­ter­day. — AFP

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