Arab coalition to probe Yemen funeral carnage
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