Saudi-led coali­tion blames Ye­meni party for fu­neral bomb­ing

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - NEWS - By Mag­gie Michael

An in­ves­ti­ga­tion team with the Saudi-led coali­tion said on Satur­day that wrong in­for­ma­tion led to the lethal bomb­ing of a packed fu­neral in the Ye­meni cap­i­tal Sanaa last week­end, which killed around 140 peo­ple and wounded more than 600.

The Joint In­ci­dents As­sess­ment Team (JIAT) ac­cused “a party af­fil­i­ated to the Ye­meni Pres­i­dency of the Gen­eral Chief of Staff” of pass­ing wrong in­for­ma­tion that the hall was packed with Houthi lead­ers, whom the coali­tion has been tar­get­ing since their mili­tias swept the cap­i­tal last year and forced Ye­men’s in­ter­na­tion­ally-rec­og­nized gov­ern­ment into ex­ile in Riyadh.

It added that the party in­sisted the lo­ca­tion was “a le­git­i­mate mil­i­tary tar­get,” the state­ment writ­ten in English said. It also said the Air Oper­a­tion Cen­ter in Ye­men di­rected a “close air sup­port mis­sion” to tar­get the site with­out get­ting ap­proval from the coali­tion’s com­mand. The com­mit­tee said com­pen­sa­tion must be of­fered to the vic­tims’ fam­i­lies.

“JIAT has found that be­cause of non-com­pli­ance with Coali­tion rules of en­gage­ment (ROEs) and pro­ce­dures, and the is­su­ing of in­cor­rect in­for­ma­tion a Coali­tion air­craft wrongly tar­geted the lo­ca­tion, re­sult­ing in civil­ian deaths and in­juries,” it said.

This is the first time the coali­tion ac­knowl­edges it was be­hind the bomb­ing, af­ter an ini­tial de­nial. The Ye­meni gov­ern­ment in Riyadh led by Pres­i­dent Abed Rabbo Man­sour Hadi made no pub­lic com­ment on the bomb­ing of the fu­neral.

The state­ment gave no clear in­di­ca­tion of which party pro­vided the in­for­ma­tion. The Ye­meni Chief of Staff is Maj. Gen. Mo­hammed Ali al-Maqdishi, who is close to the pow­er­ful army gen­eral Ali Mohsen alAh­mar — now serv­ing as a vice pres­i­dent and a top ally to Ye­men’s Mus­lim Brother­hood-tribal and po­lit­i­cal arm.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion team called on the coali­tion to “im­me­di­ately re­view their rules of en­gage­ment.”

The US-backed coali­tion, which ac­cuses Houthis of be­ing prox­ies to Iran, has come un­der heavy in­ter­na­tional pres­sure to in­ves­ti­gate the bomb­ing. The Hu­man Rights Watch rights group said in a re­port Thurs­day that the bomb­ing con­sti­tutes an ap­par­ent war crime and said rem­nants of a US­made bomb were found at the site of the strikes.

Along with arms, the United States pro­vides the coali­tion with lo­gis­ti­cal sup­port and mid-air re­fu­el­ing of its war­planes and has faced a back­lash af­ter the bomb­ing. The White House said it will im­me­di­ately re­view its as­sis­tance to the Saudiled coali­tion and that such as­sis­tance is not a “blank check.”

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