Report: Yemen school bus bombing not justified

A Saudi-led coalition investigative team said Saturday a coalition airstrike that hit a school bus in Yemen killing dozens of children last month was not justified.

Yemenis inspected a destroyed bus at the site of a Saudi-led coalition airstrike on Aug. 10, a day after the strike hit the bus, which was carrying children at Dhahyan market in the northern province of Saada, Yemen. A coalition investigative team has since admitted the attack was not justified. Photo by Stringer/EPA-EFE
Yemenis inspected a destroyed bus at the site of a Saudi-led coalition airstrike on Aug. 10, a day after the strike hit the bus, which was carrying children at Dhahyan market in the northern province of Saada, Yemen. A coalition investigative team has since admitted the attack was not justified. Photo by Stringer/EPA-EFE

The Aug. 9 Saudi-led coalition airstrike in Dhahyan market in the northern province of Saada, Yemen, killed at least 50 people, mostly children, and injured 77, the ministry said, CNN reported.

Mansour al-Mansour, official spokesman of the Arab Coalition’s Joint Incident Assessment Team, said at press conference Saturday that video from the plane that conducted the strike was analyzed for the report.

Saudi Arabia’s official news agency initially reported that the strike was a legitimate military action in retaliation to a Houthi ballistic missile attack and Mansour maintained Saturday it was still a legitimate military target because it had Houthi leaders and led to the killing of a number of Houthi leaders. However, he also admitted that “the raid on Dhahyan does not comply with the coalition’s rules of engagement,” because the bombing was not justified at the time, since the target was not a threat to the coalition forces.

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Mansour also called on the coalition to hold those responsible for mistakes in Dhahyan raid responsible.

In response, the Saudi and United Arab Emirates coalition agreed Saturday with the report and pledged to “hold the ones who committed mistakes accountable.”

The attack led to widespread condemnation.

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U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres condemned the airstrike and offered condolences for the families of the victims. He called on all parties involved in the Yemen civil war to respect international humanitarian law and called for an independent investigation.

Following the bus attack, some Congress members called on the U.S. military to clarify its role in the war and investigate whether support for the air raid could render American military personnel “liable under the war crimes act.”

The Saudi coalition, which has had U.S., French and British logistical and intelligence support, has carried out strikes in Yemen to reinstate the internationally recognized presidency of Abdu Rabbo Mansour Hadi, whom rebels drove into exile three years ago.

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The United Nations’ human rights agency said in a report Tuesday that parties to the civil war in Yemen may have committed war crimes over the three years. At least 6,660 civilians have been killed and more than 10,500 injured in the conflict, according to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Yemen, also reeling from a multi-year cholera epidemic that’s killed more than 2,300, has the greatest humanitarian crisis in the world, humanitarian agency Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere said.

“Since [2015], 22.2 million people are now in need of humanitarian assistance, among which 11.3 million are in acute need of immediate assistance to save or sustain life, mostly women and children,” the group said.

In June alone, the coalition carried out 258 air raids on Yemen, nearly one-third of which targeted non-military sites.

BySommer Brokaw