An Alistair Reign video report that takes a look at the war raging in Yemen – an attack on the Middle East’s poorest country – by the wealthiest, influential country of Saudi Arabia. Includes news coverage on the funeral bombing in Sana’a on October 8, 2016, witness accounts, interview with Human Rights Watch, and highlights from Dr. RS Karim, Co-founder of Mona Relief, a Yemen-based charity, in his sit-down interview with Sputnik news.
This report takes a look at how 20 months of the Saudi-led airstrikes, relentlessly bombing Yemen, has reduced a country to rubble, and forever destroyed the lives of the people who survive these deadly airstrikes on civilians.
The attacking Saudi-coalition has been fighting to restore Saudi-backed President Mansour Hadi to power since March of last year, after the Houthi gained control of their county’s capital Sana’a, and Hadi fled to Saudi Arabia, where he remains in exile.
And now – a country with more than 10,000 people killed in the ensuing violence, over 10,000 more died of starvation under the blockade of humanitarian aid and supplies – the Middle East’s poorest nation, Yemen is reduced to the brink of famine.
Over 7.4 million children are suffering the brunt of the conflict in myriad ways; including chronic diseases. malnutrition, loss of home and parents, loss of education; then there is resulting infliction’s of trauma caused by the violence thrust upon them at such a young age; and tens of thousands more maimed and disabled for life – in a country with no means to care for them. Adding to their hardship are the groups recruiting children to fight as soldiers.
Human rights groups have accused the Saudi-led coalition of indiscriminately bombing civilians and systematically committing human rights violations, which Riyadh has denied. To no avail, activists and lawmakers have urged the United States and other Western countries to stop supplying fighter jets, bombs and other weaponry to Saudi Arabia.
Last month the world temporarily expressed outrage at the Saudi’s when over one hundred and forty (140) men, women and children were killed, and at least525 others injured, some critically, and according to several reports, the death toll has risen, after their air force targeted a funeral hall in Sana’a. Watch our report.
ITV News was at the scene and shown remnants of a bomb, which a Yemeni military official has claimed was from a US-made Mark 82.
Senior News Editor Paul Tyson, who is also in Sana’a, said a morgue attendant told him they have “no room for bodies“, and that he saw body parts being removed from the ruins of the funeral hall.
The Yemen government claimed the Saudi-led coalition had dropped rockets on mourners who had gathered to honour the father of the government’s interior minister, who died on Friday – but the coalition air command initially denied any involvement. In his report, Paul Tyson said “important tribal leaders” were reportedly among the dead and injured.
Since then the Saudis have released a statement claiming it was the actions of one person – who will “fall on his sword“.
Human rights groups have requested an independent investigation be carried out, but the Saudi Royals have refused.
The U.S. said it will review its support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, said a U.S. National Security Council spokesperson.
“US security cooperation with Saudi Arabia is not a blank check,” said NSC spokesman Ned Price in a statement. “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.”
About sixty-percent(60%) of the children killed in Yemen since March 15, 2015, were the victims of airstrikes. So I ask again, how many more dead children will it take to put the Saudi Royals back on the United Nations’ Blacklist for killing children?
Back in June of this year – the same day UN Nations informed the Saudi’s they had been placed on a blacklist for maiming and killing children in Yemen – ten children were killed, and 28 more children were injured in a Saudi-coalition airstrike that targeted a school.
The children were taking exams inside their classrooms in Haydan, an enclave of the city of Saada. Gruesome images of their burnt and dismembered bodies immediately emerged on social-media sites. 
It is yet to be seen if the U.S. will proceed with its sale of $1.5 billion more in weapons and military advisory support to Saudi Arabia.
Yet, even in light of such an unthinkable act of violence toward children, when the Saudi Royals threw a temper tantrum and threatened to withdraw critical funding from UN programs – the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon released a statement saying he had remove them from the blacklist after “undue pressure.”
The conflict began early last year, when President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi resigned and fled to the southern city of Aden after Houthi consolidated their hold on Sana’a. So the Saudis and their allies decided to attack Yemen and restore their choice for Yemen’s president – Hadi to power.
The Houthis are currently fighting for the return of their former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh.
The Saudi invasion of Yemen – under the pretense of restoring their government, and fighting terrorists – it is a despicable hoax, and in my opinion, the Saudi “Royals” are reprehensible beasts who have no place in decent society.
According to The Telegraph, “Army units still loyal to Mr Saleh have backed the Houthi offensive after Mr Saleh switched sides and turned on the internationally recognised Saudi-backed government that replaced him three years ago.” 
However, former president Saleh remains a powerful presence in his country, and maintains military and political muscle.
As for the Saudis, they have revealed their deep disregard for international law and human life, and their disrespect towards the United Nations, and like wolves in sheep’s clothing, they are devouring anyone in their path to satisfy their instinct to dominate.
Tucked away in the southern tip of Arabia lies Yemen, a majestic land which blue skies, and breath-taking beauty have now become painful reminders of what once was, and of what could have been should the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia had stayed away – should grand military powers had refused to partake in the invasion of a people calling for political emancipation.
While you may not find my words pleasing, I will still tell you of this war which since March 2015 has torn a nation and a people apart, so that imperialism, and war capitalism could claim their pound of flesh.
Yemen I realise is not popular! Yemen I realise is no more than a dark corner of the world, a faraway land Westerners have little interest in, since it speaks not to their immediate needs. Yemen you may soon learn was the domino we should never have abandoned to the fury of Riyadh. Yemen you will do well to remember holds very crucial geopolitical keys … however poor and undeveloped it may stand today, however unsophisticated and traditional it may appear, Yemen nevertheless stands a crucial rampart against Saudi Arabia financial, religious and geopolitical monopoly.
Yemen as it were has prevented thus far for Riyadh to manifest a dangerously ambitious plan: absolute control over the world oil route. Beyond the kingdom’s pecuniary agenda, also exists the need to develop and build a grand Wahhabi empire – a dominion which the House of Saud could claim control over to secure its survival, as did its founders when they branded the Hejaz to their coat of arms.
A violent and reactionary theocracy raised around the radicalism of Wahhabism, Saudi Arabia was built upon the blood of the innocent. The kingdom’s very existence was sustained upon the blood of the innocent since it is in oppression and repression it has best expressed its will.
Why should we then be surprised that Riyadh sought to push the boundaries of its kingdom further out, to ultimately carve a grand Wahhabist empire? I would personally argue that it is our ethno-centrism which prevented us from recognizing the threat posed by al-Saud’s imperial ambitions. If Western powers imagined themselves cunning enough that they could exploit Riyadh and syphon money away from royals’ coffers, they find themselves now bound to princes’ political whims – condemn to capitalist servitude.
But I will not discuss today Saudi Arabia’s pursuit of power, or even argue the vengeful violence of Wahhabism against religious communities … all religious communities. Today I would like you, the public, to learn of Yemen’s pain, and of a people’s desperate cries for help.
You may have caught from the corner of your eye the devastation, and carnage which befell northern Yemen this August as Saudi war planes have played double-tap on civilian targets, while appointing blame on those below for being there!
As our reality continues to be sold out, and defined by unscrupulous media we have been told a twisted fairy tale, where the abominable has been dressed up as a victim, and the dead criminalised for daring claim to a dignified life.
Many of you I’m sure have grown unsure and confused as contradictive narratives have been thrown around, blurring the lines in between the legal, the politically acceptable, and the ethically questionable.
Those children you watched being pulled from the rubbles of their schools were sacrificed to serve the vindictive political agenda of Yemen’s rebels: the infamous Houthis … The innocent you were told were not really murdered, but rather forfeited by their families so that they could cry war crimes against the otherwise righteous Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Such allegations are sickening … such allegations I believe speak volumes of the very nature of the war lobby.
Children were killed because they were targeted!
The sick were murdered because they were targeted!
Civilians have died in their droves because the kingdom willed it, chose it and demanded it.
And yes wars are by definition ugly, and no parties should ever claim impunity – but let’s not confuse collateral casualties with cold-blooded murder. Yes abuses were committed on all sides of the board, but none greater and more abject than those of the kingdom’s.
Let us remember here that Yemen is fighting against a foreign invasion.
Let us remember that it was Saudi Arabia which unilaterally declared war on Yemen for it could not bear to see rise a democracy south of its theocratic borders.
Let us remember whose dogma the Greater Middle East has cowered under since 2011 before dismissing Yemen’s Resistance movement.
Yemen you may not have noticed has cracked, burnt, exploded, bled, died and cried well beyond the tolerable – still we have looked on and debated the right of a people to exercise their right to political self-determination.
As we, or rather they, this infamous and elusive they, which are the powers that be, have criminalised Resistance, let us remember how all of our democracies were born. Democracy’s history tells us, was built upon and around nations and individuals’ right to resist oppression, as to affirm popular will.
In political philosophy, the right of revolution is the right or duty of the people of a nation to overthrow a government that acts against their common interests. Throughout history nations have risen against their respective tyrants on the back of such principles. Comes to mind the famous phrase: vox populi,vox dei – “the voice of the people is the voice of God.”
Can we in all good conscience deny Yemen the courtesy of its resistance when we ourselves were saved by its armies? Can we truly sit atop our democracies and deny others their own?
Can we even conceive criminalising a free people and demand that they quietly allow for tyrants to shackle their future for the sake of lucrative military contracts?
And so I ask: Who will answer Yemen’s cry?
Catherine Shakdam is a political analyst and commentator for the Middle East with a special focus on Yemen and radical movements. She is the Director of Programs for the Shafaqna Institute for Middle Eastern Studies in the UK, and serves as Special Adviser for the Middle East for Prince Ali Seraj of Afghanistan. She also sits as the Executive Director of PASI (Prince Ali Seraj of Afghanistan Institute for Peace and Reconstruction) She is the author of Arabia’s Rising – Under The Banner Of The First Imam. Her writings have appeared on RT, Press TV, Mehr News, The Foreign Policy Journal, The Duran, MintPress, the American Herald Tribune, Open Democracy, the Age of Reflection and many others. She’s the director and founder of Veritas-Consulting.
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The British government has quietly issued reams of corrections to previous ministerial statements in which they claimed that Saudi Arabia is not targeting civilians or committing war crimes. The autocratic petro-state is currently engaged in a bombing campaign in Yemen where it has blown up hospitals, schools, and weddings as part of its intervention against Houthi rebels.
Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the UN’s high commissioner for human rights, has said that “carnage” caused by certain Saudi coalition airstrikes against civilian targets appear to be war crimes.
Britain has been a staunch defender of the dictatorship’s assault, with UK arms companies supplying billions in weapons and ministers staking their reputation on the conduct of the Saudi Arabian armed forces.
However as MPs went back to their constituencies for recess on Thursday the Foreign Office admitted six ministerial statements from the past year “did not fully reflect” the real situation.
In many cases ministers had denied war crimes were being committed – statements the FCO now believes went too far. Instead, ministers were meant to only say that they had not actively confirmed that war crimes were being committed.
In February, then Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, said:
“we have assessed that there has not been a breach of international humanitarian law by the coalition”, the Foreign Office noted.
It added: “However, these should have stated … ‘we have not assessed that there has been a breach of IHL by the coalition’.”
On another occasion, the FCO noted, Mr Hammond, who is now the Chancellor, had said:
“‘The MOD assessment is that the Saudi-led coalition is not targeting civilians; that Saudi processes and procedures have been put in place to ensure respect for the principles of international humanitarian law; and that the Saudis both have been and continue to be genuinely committed to compliance with international humanitarian law.’
The correction continued:
“This should have said, ‘…The MOD has not assessed that the Saudi-led coalition is targeting civilians. We have assessed that Saudi processes and procedures have been put in place to ensure respect for the principles of international humanitarian law; and that the Saudis both have been and continue to be genuinely committed to compliance with international humanitarian law.”
The UK has repeatedly refused calls from the European Parliament and House of Commons international development committee to stop selling weapons to the autocratic monarchy.
Oliver Sprague, Amnesty UK’s Arms Programme Director, said:
“This is jaw-dropping stuff. The government has admitted grossly misleading parliament no fewer than six times on issues as serious as the deaths of civilians in Yemen.
“The government has spent most of this year telling us that assessments had been conducted and it was confident that no breach of international law had occurred – when it’s now apparent no specific assessment of Saudi operations had been done whatsoever.
“It appears that what the UK government is admitting is to only having reviewed general Saudi procedures rather than investigating the many actual reports of unlawful attacks.
“It’s staggering that such a shameful admission is made at the eleventh hour on the last day of parliament. It’s not even doublespeak, it’s just plain wrong.”
A spokesperson for Campaign Against Arms Trade, which has led calls for a boycott, said:
“This is a stunning piece of back-peddling, and the timing feels very cynical.
“The corrections reveal that Philip Hammond’s original statements were either totally wrong or outright distortions.
“UK arms have been central to the devastation inflicted on Yemen and it’s time for the government to come clean about its role.”
Official figures reported by The Independent in January this year show sales of British bombs and missiles to the country increased 100 times in the three-month period since the start of the attacks on Yemen.
The sales jumped from £9m ($14,650,822.07 USD) in the previous three months to £1bn (1,567,451,085.57 USD).
Mr Cameron, who stepped down as PM this week following the election of Theresa May to leader of the Conservative party, said in January that Britain’s relationship with Saudi Arabia is “important for our own security”.
Last week The Independent reported that the UK government had refused to rule out re-electing Saudi Arabia to a key UN human rights council.
Saudi Arabia Human Right’s Violation article’s in Belfast Telegraph:
Today media sources reported that the US will not pause airstrikes in Syria despite appeals from opposition activists after what appears to be the worst US-caused civilian casualty disaster of the war against the Islamic State.
Anas Alabdah, president of the Syrian National Coalition, has called on the US to suspend its airstrikes until it performs a thorough investigation into the attack near the contested northern city of Manbij on Tuesday that Syrian activists say killed at least 73 civilians – and possibly more than 125.
“Other sources are say that the incident took place in the town of Manbij on Tuesday. Aroundeight families were struck while they were trying to escape the attack launched by Arab and Kurdish forces against Islamic State (IS) group fighters in Manbij. 85 civilians, including11 children have been killed, according to the statement of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Besides, dozens were wounded. “
US-backed forces waging an offensive against the Islamic State-held city of Manbij in northern Syria appealed for international assistance for those fleeing the fighting on Tuesday as the forces tightened their encirclement of the city.
“Alabdah, in a statement, insisted on “accountability” for those responsible for the devastating airstrike, “revised rules of procedure” for future strikes, and warned that continuing the aerial bombardment would deliver the hard-fought region back into the hands of Isis.
“More strikes at the moment will drive Syrians “further into a spiral of despair and, more importantly, will prove to be a recruitment tool for terrorist organizations,” Alabdah said.
“The US has launched at least 12 airstrikes since the destruction in the village of Tokkhar, according to a daily tally released by the military. Asked by the Guardian if the military will pause airstrikes,
“Army Colonel Christopher Garver, chief spokesman for the US military command in Iraq and Syria, replied: “No. Operations continue against Daesh,” another name for Isis.” 
US military investigates activists’ claims of deaths in Manbij in what would be deadliest coalition attack on non-combatants in campaign against Isis.
US airstrikes on a Syrian village have killed at least 73 civilians, a majority of them women and children, activists say, in the deadliest coalition attack on non-combatants since the start of the bombing campaign against the Islamic State.
The bombing was part of a two-month push to seize the town of Manbij, a strategic centre, key to any future advance on Islamic State’s de facto capital, Raqqa. Activists had warned of high civilian casualty rates from airstrikes in Manbij even before the latest airstrike.
In the early hours of Tuesday morning, activists described coalition aircraft hitting a cluster of houses in the village of Tokkhar, where nearly 200 people had gathered to seek shelter as the frontline shifted towards their homes.
Most of those inside were killed or injured.
“The death toll is 117. We could document [the identity of] 73 civilians including 35 children and 20 women. The rest of the dead bodies are charred, or have been reduced to shreds,” said Adnan al-Housen, an activist from Manbij.
He said around 50 injured survivors were rushed for treatment to the border town of Jarablus, where they provided details about the attack.
Ahmad Mohammad from the Syrian Institute for Justice, a Turkey-based group which monitors human rights violations, has also documented73 victims, from at least nine families. UK-based monitoring group AirWars has recorded the names of a similar number of dead from several different sources.
“This is likely the worst reported civilian toll of any coalition attack since the bombing campaign against Isis began nearly two years ago,” said AirWars director Chris Wood. The group had already warned of a rising civilian toll around Manbij.
“Since the siege began it’s our view that at least 190 civilians have been killed by coalition airstrikes, mostly US. We are concerned that the US-led alliance appears to have relaxed some of their rules concerning civilian casualties,” said Woods. A coalition spokesman denied any change to its rules of engagement.
The attack came the day before defence ministers from the anti-Isis coalition gathered outside Washington to discuss progress in the war.
Anti-Isis activist group Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently warned on Twitter that airstrikes which kill civilians undermine the fight against Isis, and gave an even higher toll for the Tuesday attack.
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the coalition’s allies on the ground, said in a statement that they had provided intelligence for airstrikes on Tokkhar, although they insisted the bombs hit an Isis group and denied any civilians were killed.
Villagers told Housen that they believed most Isis forces had withdrawn from Tokhar shortly before the bombing raid.
An official release of airstrike information from US Central Command early on Wednesday did not include the claims of civilian deaths, but instead said that three of its airstrikes near Manbij on 19 July destroyed Isis fight positions, 12 of its vehicles and a command “node”.
Army Col Christopher Garver, the chief spokesman for the US-led war effort, said the command in Baghdad was aware of reports of civilian casualties and is reviewing the incident, which could lead to a formal investigation.
While Garver emphasized that he could not confirm the allegations of the civilian death toll, he indicated there was no incident in which the US-led coalition killed more than 70 civilians during the two-year-old bombing campaign against Islamic State, which would make Tuesday’s bombing the deadliest coalition attack on non-combatants.
“I do not believe Centcom has released the findings of any investigation acknowledging civilian casualties that large or larger,” he said.
Garver also said that Isis was increasingly using civilians as human shields around Manbij, and suggested that could have been a factor in any deaths.
“We have seen Da’esh using more civilians as human shields in the Manbij area. We’ve seen them during the fight pushing civilians toward the lines of the SDF to try to draw fire. While the investigative process will provide details on this particular incident, and we don’t know what happened, I won’t be surprised if this is somehow a factor,” Garver said.
He denied that the US had relaxed its rules of engagement around when it can open fire against a suspected Isis target, although AirWars data shows that airstrikes have been getting deadlier for Syrian civilians.
In the six months leading up to May, attacks by coalition aircraft were down 15%, but likely civilian deaths were up by over a third, the group’s records show.
“That was really worrying for us, since it suggests a change in priorities for the coalition – one which means civilians are now at greater risk from airstrikes,” Woods said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which put the death toll for the strike near Manbij at 56, claims that since 31 May, coalition strikes have killed a total of 104 civilians.
Overall, the US military has confirmed 36 civilian deaths from its airstrikes since summer 2015, a figure independent observers consider too low to be credible, considering the daily barrage of air-delivered US ordnance for nearly two years.
Manbij is often cited by US officials as a success story for the ongoing war. Officials claim Isis is under assault from four fronts in Manbij as it clings to territory in the city center.
Ashton Carter, the US defense secretary, cited the importance of the ongoing fight during a meeting outside Wednesday of defence ministers from the anti-Isis coalition, where they are expected to discuss the capture of Raqqa.
Proxy forces “have now surrounded Manbij city, which is one of the last junctions connecting Raqqa to the outside world and a key transit point for external plotters threatening our homelands”, Carter said at the Washington meeting.
Sir John Chilcot delivers highly critical verdict on Iraq war but ex-PM says: ‘I believe we made the right decision’
A defiant Tony Blair defended his decision to go to war in Iraq in 2003 following the publication of a devastating report by Sir John Chilcot, which mauled the ex-prime minister’s reputation and said that at the time of the 2003 invasion Saddam Hussein “posed no imminent threat”.
Looking tired, his voice sometimes croaking with emotion, Blair described his decision to join the US attack as “the hardest, most momentous, most agonising decision I took in 10 years as British prime minister”.
He said he felt “deeply and sincerely … the grief and suffering of those who lost ones they loved in Iraq”.
“There will not be a day when I do not relive and rethink what happened,” he added.
But asked whether invading Iraq was a mistake Blair was strikingly unrepentant. “I believe we made the right decision and the world is better and safer,” he declared. He argued that he had acted in good faith, based on intelligence at the time which said that Iraq’s president had weapons of mass destruction. This “turned out to be wrong”.
Blair also said the Iraq inquiry – set up by his successor Gordon Brown bac
k in 2009 – shot down long-standing claims that he had lied about the war to the British publicand cynically manipulated intelligence. Where there had been mistakes they were minor ones involving “planning and process”, he said. He said he “couldn’t accept” criticism that British soldiers died in vain.
Blair’s extraordinary two-hour press conference came after Chilcot, a retired civil servant, published his long-awaited report into the Iraq debacle. In the end, and seven years after hearings first began, it was a more far-reaching and damning document than many had expected. It eviscerated Blair’s style of government and decision-making.
It also revealed that in a remarkable private note sent on 28 July 2002 Blair promised Bush: “I will be with you, whatever.”
The head of the Iraq war inquiry said the UK’s decision to attack and occupy a sovereign state for the first time since the second world war was a decision of “utmost gravity”. Chilcot described Saddam as “undoubtedly a brutal dictator” who had repressed and murdered many of his own people and attacked his neighbours.
But he was withering about Blair’s choice to sign up to a military plan drawn up in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 by the US president, George W Bush, and his neo-con team. Chilcot said: “We have concluded that the UK chose to join the invasion of Iraq before the peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted. Military action at that time was not a last resort.”
The report also bitterly criticised the way in which Blair made the case for Britain to go to war. It said the notorious dossier presented in September 2002 by Blair to the House of Commons did not support his claim that Iraq had a growing programme of chemical and biological weapons.
The then Labour government also failed to anticipate the war’s disastrous consequences, the report said. They included the deaths of “at least 150,000 Iraqis – and probably many more – most of them civilians” and “more than a million people displaced”.
“The people of Iraq have suffered greatly,” Chilcot said.
Chilcot did not pass judgment on whether the war was legal. But the report said the way the legal basis was dealt with before the 20 March invasion was far from satisfactory. The attorney general, Peter Goldsmith, should have given written advice to cabinet and ministers – one of few findings that Blair accepted on Wednesday.
Lord Goldsmith told Blair that war without a second UN resolution would be illegal, only to change his mind after a trip to Washington in March 2003 and meetings with Bush administration legal officials.
Overall, Chilcot’s report amounts to arguably the most scathing official verdict on any modern British prime minister. It implicitly lumps Blair in the same category as Anthony Eden, who invaded Egypt in a failed attempt to gain control of the Suez canal.
Chilcot’s 2.6m-word, 12-volume report was released on Wednesday morning, together with a 145-page executive summary.
The venue was the Queen Elizabeth II conference centre in Westminster. As families of service personnel killed in Iraq welcomed its strong contents, anti-war protesters kept up a raucous chorus of “Blair Liar”.
• The widespread perception that the September 2002 dossier distorted intelligence produced a “damaging legacy”, undermining trust and confidence in politicians.
• The government failed to achieve its stated objectives.
The Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, apologised for his party’s “disastrous decision to go to war”, calling it the most serious foreign policy calamity of the last 60 years. Jack Straw, the foreign secretary at the time, and who largely escaped Chilcot censure, said that Blair was never “gung ho” about war.Other allies also came to Blair’s defence. Alastair Campbell, his former press secretary, said Blair had not given Bush a blank cheque. There were no easy decisions, Campbell added. In a statement on Wednesday Bush acknowledged mistakes but said he continued to believe “the world is better off without Saddam in power”.
The report, however, disagrees. It sheds fresh light on the private discussions between Blair and Bush in the run-up to war. The report says that after the 9/11 attacks Blair urged Bush “not to take hasty action on Iraq”. The UK’s formal policy was to contain Saddam’s regime.
But by the time the two leaders met in April 2002 at Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas, the UK’s thinking had undergone “a profound change”. The joint intelligence committee had concluded that Saddam could not be removed “without an invasion”, with the government saying Iraq was a threat “that had to be dealt with”.
‘I will be with you whatever’
Blair sent Bush a series of private notes setting out his thinking. They included the 28 July 2002 note, released for the first time on Wednesday, in the face of opposition from the Cabinet Office, which said: “I will be with you [Bush] whatever.”
It added: “This is the moment to assess bluntly the difficulties. The planning on this and the strategy are the toughest yet. This is not Kosovo. This is not Afghanistan. It is not even the Gulf war.”
At times, Blair’s notes read more like stream of consciousness than considered policy documents. The note continued: “He [Saddam] is a potential threat. He could be contained. But containment … is always risky.” It says “we must have a workable military plan” and proposes a “huge force” to seize Baghdad.
Asked what “whatever” meant, Blair said on Wednesday his support for Bush was never unconditional or unqualified. He said that he had persuaded the US president to go down the “UN route”. Blair also linked his actions in Iraq with the ongoing global struggle against Islamist terrorism.
The Iraq war inquiry has left the door open for Tony Blair to be prosecuted.
According to Chilcot, however, Blair shaped his diplomatic strategy around a “military timetable” and the need to get rid of Saddam. He told Bush in his note this was the “right thing to do”. Blair suggested that the simplest way to come up with a casus belli was to give an ultimatum to Iraq to disarm, preferably backed by UN authority.
Chilcot rejected Blair’s view that spurning the US-led military alliance against Iraq would have done major damage to London’s relations with Washington. “It’s questionable it would have broken the partnership,” he writes, noting that the two sides had taken different views on other major issues including the Suez crisis, the Vietnam war and the Falklands.
The report said that by January 2003 Blair had concluded “the likelihood was war”. He accepted a US military timetable for action by mid-March, while at the same time publicly blaming France for failing to support a second UN resolution in the security council authorising military action.
Chilcot was again unimpressed. “In the absence of a majority in support of military action, we consider that the UK was, in fact, undermining the security council’s authority,” he said.
The report also demolished Blair’s claim made when he gave evidence to the inquiry in 2010 that the difficulties encountered by British forces in post-invasion Iraq could not have been known in advance.
“We do not agree that hindsight is required,” Chilcot said. “The risks of internal strife in Iraq, active Iranian pursuit of its interests, regional instability, and al-Qaida activity in Iraq, were each explicitly identified before the invasion.”
The report is critical of the Ministry of Defence and military commanders who were tasked with occupying four southern provinces of Iraq once Saddam had been toppled. “The scale of the UK effort in post-conflict Iraq never matched the scale of the challenge,” Chilcot said, noting that security in Baghdad and south-east Iraq deteriorated soon after the invasion.
In the end, 179 British service personnel died before UK forces pulled out in 2009.
Chilcot said the MoD was “slow in responding to the threat from improvised explosive devices”. He said that delays in providing properly armoured patrol vehicles “should not have been tolerated”. Nor was it clear which official was in charge. “It should have been,” Chilcot said.
As part of his remit, Chilcot also set out what lessons could be learned. He said that Blair “overestimated his ability to influence US decisions on Iraq”.
He added: “The UK’s relationship with the US has proved strong enough over time to bear the weight of honest disagreement. It does not require unconditional support where our interest or judgments differ.”
While reading The National’s article titled “After a year in Yemen, our resolve is firm”, I could not concentrate on the weak words, because the images of what the Yemen war and blockade looks like for the men, women, children and babies are far more powerful. The article expresses concern with a few feeble words of hope for peace soon.
After I read the article, I said out loud, “what the fuck, why is this article even given web space?“
So I decided to give it worth – with a juxtaposition of words and tweets.
Begin The National’s spin.
Five Yemeni army recruits were killed in an ISIL-claimed bomb attack on Tuesday, as clashes broke out on several fronts on the second day of a UN-brokered truce. Seven other recruits were injured in the Aden attack, which struck the city’s northern Al Sheikh Othman district early in the morning.
The recruits were targeted as they waited for buses to take them east to Al Soban military camp, Brigadier Shalal Shaei, the director of Aden’s police, told The National. Army recruits usually wait at the same spot, near the Suzuki roundabout, every day.
The ISIL-affiliated Amaq News Agency said the extremist group was responsible for the bombing.
24 hour DEATH TOLL: 8 killed & 25 injured by Saudi attacks & Houthi clashes as UN peace talks cancelled for 3rd day. pic.twitter.com/ZG2gQK10jO
Over the past two months, however, Saudi-led air strikes have begun to target Al Qaeda fighters in various provinces. And last month Yemeni forces, backed by UAE troops, drove Al Qaeda fighters from key areas of Aden, including Al Mansoura district, where the extremists had held the prison, main market and other public institutions for months.
More than 20 people were killed and dozens injured in three suicide car bombings claimed by ISIL in the southern Yemeni city of Aden on Friday night.
The two other bombs struck near checkpoints leading to a military camp belonging to the Saudi-led coalition that is supporting the Yemeni government against Shiite Houthi rebels and allied soldiers loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh. Casualty figures from these attacks were not immediately available.
Militants from ISIL and the Yemen-based branch of Al Qaeda have staged a number of attacks in Aden recently, taking advantage of the ongoing war against the Iran-backed Houthis and their allies who seized the capital Sanaa in 2014.
The government of president Abdrabu Mansur Hadi based itself in Aden after the southern port was liberated from rebel forces last July with the help of the Saudi-led coalition, in which the UAE is playing a key role.
The start one year ago of Operation Decisive Storm comes as a reminder of the importance of the war in Yemen. The UAE joined the Saudi-led coalition campaign driven by its commitment and dedication to maintaining security and establishing peace in the region.
The coalition responded to the call by Yemen’s president Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi to restore his internationally recognised government to power. Houthi rebels had captured the capital of Sanaa, with the support of Iran and loyalists to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, and were advancing towards the southern city of Aden. On the way, they had killed civilians and destroyed neighbourhoods, leading to a vast humanitarian crisis. The Houthis’ disregard for Yemen’s security created fertile ground for extremism to thrive, leading to the latest attacks by ISIL that killed 20 people in Aden on Friday.
The precarious situation last year required swift intervention to guard against a wider conflict in the region. Saudi Arabia and its Gulf Cooperation Council allies, including the UAE, realised that the security of Yemen was critical for the Arabian Peninsula at large and that a military operation would be required. Iran, which has a history of meddling in regional affairs, has been backing the Shiite Houthi group to fulfil its own nefarious agenda of expanding its footprint in the Middle East. Quite simply, unless we had taken firm action, our security would have been at risk. This has come at a great cost, including the lives of more than 80 UAE martyrs.
The UAE has also contributed greatly to humanitarian efforts in Yemen, especially as Operation Retoring Hope got under way. More than Dh1.6 billion has been spent on infrastructure and aid programmes to provide our brothers and sisters there with electricity, food, health services, water, sanitation, fuel and transport. We will continue to help the civilian population. Of course, the ultimate goal is a political solution that restores the legitimate government.
Joining a military campaign is never an easy decision to make, but in this case it was a necessary one. As the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr Anwar Gargash, said on Friday, the UAE is more powerful today with the sacrifice of its martyrs, and history will remember the important role Operation Decisive Storm has played in drawing “a line between acceptance and submission, and determination and will”.
War has become anarchy at the hands of Islamic extremists – and al-Saud is the grandfather of them all – Saudi Arabia being the Islamic empire of Wahhabi; now they have occupied neighbouring Muslim populated countries, by violent force declared themselves an Islamic State. Now Saudis have destroyed Yemen; demolished its civilization; buildings razed to rubble; and genocide of its people.
In a bustling office in the suburbs of the Kurdish city of Dohuk, eleven-year-old Raed quietly begins to recount his ordeal at the hands of ISIL. It does not take long for his eyes to well up.
Raed is one of the few children who have escaped from ISIS camps. Thankfully he was granted leave to visit his mother, who was being kept as a slave in Raqqa; she was smuggled out with her children during his stay.
Florian Neuhof, writes in his article for The National: The diminutive, soft-spoken Yazidi boy had been earmarked as a future jihadist and potential suicide bomber by ISIL, which is grooming the next generation of fighters for its self-proclaimed caliphate in camps set up for this purpose.
Hundreds of Yazidi boys have been forced to undergo the brutal training after being taken from their parents when ISIL attacked Iraq’s northern Sinjar region in August 2014.
Raed struggles to hold back his tears as the memories come flooding back.
“I forgot about some things, but other things are more difficult to forget. I can’t get them out of my head,” he says.
Raed spent eight months in a camp called Farouk near Raqqa, ISIL’S main stronghold in Syria, where about a hundred boys were subjected to a gruelling daily routine aimed at forging the model jihadi. He says roughly half of them were fellow Yazidis who had been forced to convert to Islam. The others were children of ISIL members sent there by their parents.
The boys were woken at four in the morning for prayers, the start of a long day filled with military training and indoctrination.
They were forced to watch videos of beheadings and other violent deaths,gory propaganda that has become a trademark of ISIL’s recruitment efforts. If they failed to memorise the Quran, they were beaten.
Snatched from their families and subjected to constant manipulation, the boys began to absorb the extremist group’s toxic ideology.
“I started believing the things they taught me. Many of the kids in the camp have been indoctrinated,” says Raed.
To turn them into effective fighters, the boys at Farouk camp were taught how to shoot Kalashnikovs and machine guns. Propaganda material that ISIL has released online shows boys dressed in combat fatigues brandishing weapons and practising martial arts. Their hair is closely cropped and they wear black bandannas with the ISIL logo around their head.
The cruel irony is that the Yazidi boys are being brainwashed into becoming loyal servants of the group that devastated their community.
Estimates vary, but ISIL is believed to have kidnapped about 5,000 peoplewhen its fighters stormed into Sinjar, seeking to eradicate the ancient Yazidi religion that they regard as devil worship. The women and girls were sold to ISIL members as sex slaves and servants in Iraq and Syria, while many of the boys ended up in the camps. The men were rounded up and shot.
The terror group has reportedly executed more than 10,000 civilians, including women and children, in Iraq and Syria from June 2014 to October 2016 when this statics was published.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, ISIL has five training camps for boys in Syria. There are at least two such camps in Iraq, in Mosul and the nearby town of Tel Afar, according to a Yazidi teenager who was trained at both places.
Abu Shija, a Yazidi who helps smuggle members of the community out of ISIL areas, estimates that there are about 600 Yazidi boys in the camps in Syria, cut off from the outside world and closely guarded.
“We have only been able to rescue a small number of them so far, unfortunately. It has become very difficult to get these children back. Some of our people have died trying to rescue them,” he says.
According to figures provided by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), only thirteen (13) of the six-hundred-three (603) Yazidi boys freed in Syria and Iraq so far were snatched from the camps.
A question I have been asked many times since I began covering the humanitarian crisis in Yemen; who is taking care of the war orphans in Yemen? It appears the world has forgotten them. I question whether the world has ever acknowledged the Yemeni children’s tragic and worsening crisis.
Perhaps because they are not considered refugee orphans – the public on a whole is not paying attention to the gross crimes committed against these little ones – committed at the hands of an invading regime –Saudi Arabia.
Humanitarian groups within Yemen are sending out pleas for the intervention of world leaders to help medical staff get the sick and injured children out of Yemen and in to hospitals, or by upholding the rules of war, and use their power as the UNSC to enforce the opening of Yemen’s borders, and allow the rest of the world to save the lives of the children the Saudi King has been ruthlessly slaughtering for the past year.
We are talking about tens of thousands of children and babies who have committed no crime, they are not a threat to the Saudi regime, yet the Saudi King has reached across his border – seized them in his clutch of terror – and the trauma he has thrust them into is horrifying; seeing parents and siblings killed by violence; surviving only to suffer fear and hopelessness when they realize nobody is there to take care of them; for some orphans there is no family left alive to be aware they even existed.
A child without an adult’s protection is a child sentenced to unspeakable abuse or death.
I have been told that in the best case scenario a family member or neighbor would take orphaned children into their care, but this happens much less frequently, as the past year of constant bombing has been so devastating that adults can no longer extend their protection, not when they are barely able to provide food and shelter for their own children.
Thankfully there are humanitarians inside Yemen to watch over the little ones at risk.
The caring people at ‘Your Ability Organization For Development‘ are defending children against the suffering inflicted on them by this senseless war.
“Silence of the world is killing the children in Yemen,” said Mohammed Alharthy.
I have been speaking with Mohammed Alharthy, CEO and Vice President of Your Ability. and for several weeks he has been graciously walking me through the activities of their organization’s mission, to alleviate the suffering of children, and bring global awareness to the –beyond dire– humanitarian crisis in Yemen, specifically Sana’a where one of their facilities is located.
Your Ability Organization began as a development project, receiving permits from social affairs ministry, and has facilitated many courses, such as medical evacuation during a disaster, with the purpose to save people from buildings bombed by warplanes and other weapons, as well how to perform first aid to injured people during a bombing, including how the person providing aid must also save themselves.
However, Your Ability opened their facilities to displaced people last March(2015) with the onslaught of the Saudi-led attack on civilians. Your Ability has been able to provide shelter and warm clothing to the needy people desperately trying to survive the bitter cold in homes with no gas or electricity (if they are even lucky enough to have a house left standing).
Your Ability staff has told me that nowadays their focus has been on defending the orphans; and they send out a call for everyone to cooperate in order to stop these violations. Your Ability has plenty of projects aiding the children in all aspects of health, but with the breakdown of an internal structure there is no support for their programs, particularly financial support.
The Your Ability staff and volunteers have created safe havens for the orphaned children by turning their facilities into living quarters.
Even so, the hardship of children is great, as is the burden placed on a small number of people, because their own resources are limited by the difficulty of smuggling in medicine and food.
The danger these brave caregivers face is also a concern, as Saudi Arabia has proven that they search out the buildings sheltering the disabled and sick, including the elderly and children.
When I asked Mr. Alharthy of Your Ability if there was a message he would like to tell the world – his reply was heartbreaking.
“Our message is to reach the whole world that we endeavor to save children from slippage into poor mental health as a result of the terror they witnessed, and which remains a part of their daily struggle.”
The organization explained in more detail the main concern they have identified.
A child sent out to search for essential supplies may never return.
Your Ability has advised me that the dangers Yemeni children face goes far beyond the cluster bombs and sniper’s indiscriminately targeting civilians of all ages. I have been told from several sources in Yemen that a child as young as five-years-old will be sent out alone on an arduous search for gas and water, putting them at risk and vulnerable to many obstacles and crimes against children – including abductions, abuse, exploitation, and even burning of the child’s body.
Often that young child is solely responsible for keeping his mother and siblings alive.
The Mental Health of a Generation of Yemeni Children.
During their recent visit to “You are the future” festival for the orphanages, Your Ability provided tickets for children to go have fun at a local amusement park.
“In this way we can support them psychologically like all other kids, and give them the chance to develop friendship with other kids by organizing days of recreational, giving caregivers the chance to speak to them about their needs, feelings and dreams, also the troubles they face,” said Mr. Alharthy.
Your ability organization also supports the orphanages with food and other essential needs, and together discuss enterprise management for continued support for involving the orphans dynamically in the society.
Your Ability Has Teamed Up With Mona Relief to Help Relieve The Suffering Of Children.
Many orphanages have run out of food and medicine as well, and children are dying of starvation and treatable diseases. Mona Relief Charity was able to provide Your Ability with much needed medicine, and together they will deliver them to the orphanages.
Your Ability has also joined Mona Relief Charity‘s “School Bags Campaign“, and together they will work toward bringing happiness to the children and stop their suffering.
Mr. Alharthy expressed with deep concern that “Many children are waiting for us to return their smile, forty children to date, with their house damaged and with different injuries.
“We have done a survey for some places, not all, and had visited many hospital that use to medicate children, and these hospitals can no longer provide all medical support due to shortage of medical tools and the enormity of injuries.
“Many of the children hospitalized have died because of no medicine and no experienced doctors.
“The current situation is getting worse, and for that we train many youth to aid people with diseases, and for this, those of us at Your Ability need support. Furthermore, we need an international organizations for doing this project with us in order to cover all provinces in Yemen during this breakout of diseases.
“Due to bombing the residential areas, there are many civilian people and children had been buried under rubble. The children have become the victim because his parent were killed, and now he is compelled to carry a weapon instead of pen, for protecting what family he has left.
“This ongoing battle, and no provisions make his suffering and struggling even more agonizing.“
Your Ability Organization has distributed blankets and medical packages to Alsabien hospital’s nourishing department in order to distribute them to aggrieved children, women and men in Sana’a.
“There are many cases needing help.
“We had visited one of the orphanage establishment in Sana’a where one-hundred-fifty (150) orphans between the ages five to eighteen (5-18) years old. This establishment complains from lack of foods as the previous support has all stopped due to the war, and has caused even worse suffering because the children are slowly starving to death.
“The orphan children are also suffering a great deal of trauma from the constant bombing near their establishment.“
These statistics and stories come from only ONE of many orphanages in Sana’a.
“There are many orphans living on the streets looking for food by gathering plastic bottles from rubbish, or by begging other people on streets – where roundabouts are filled with child orphans. Moreover, Sana’a hospitals are full of children suffering terribly from malnutrition.”
I would like to acknowledge the staff and volunteers at ‘Your Ability Organization For Development’ for their brave works, and I encourage the world to support the enormous task this small group of humanitarians have taken on to protect Yemen’s future – their children.
In today’s world it takes more than a village to raise a child – it takes an entire planet.
I ask of my readers to give generously to the cause of saving Yemeni children, not only from death, but from a life of misery and mental illness. Now is the time to act – not later.
Please donate generously to Your Ability Organization’s Go Fund Me page. One hundred percent (100%) of your donations go directly to the Your Ability and Mona Relief Organization’s bank accounts; in turn, all the funds they receive are used to purchase essential supplies for orphanages, hospitals and poverty-stricken families.
There are no intermediary fees taken out of your donation, except for the small percentage the Go Fund Me company shaves off for their fee, and best of all, your money reaches the children very quickly.
Escalating violations, including possible war crimes, that have sparked a humanitarian crisis amid Yemen’s armed conflict will only worsen unless all states immediately impose a comprehensive embargo on arms transfers that could be used by any of the warring parties, Amnesty International warned today as a meeting on the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) got under way in Geneva.
ATT States Parties and signatories are among those who continue to supply weapons to Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners for use in Yemen – in brazen violation of the treaty, in particular its human rights provisions.
Arms have also been diverted into the hands of Huthi and other armed groups fighting in Yemen.
“All states, as well as international organizations such as the European Union and United Nations, should do everything in their power to prevent this terrible humanitarian toll from worsening further. A vital first step would be immediately turning off the taps on the irresponsible and unlawful flow of arms that could be used in the conflict in Yemen.”
Amnesty International has documented how, since the conflict erupted last March, all sides have committed a string of serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, including possible war crimes, with impunity.
This has contributed to the deaths of nearly 3,000 civilians,
including at least 700 children, has
injured more than 5,600 and
displaced upwards of 2.5 million people.
The need for an arms embargo
Amnesty International is urging all states to ensure that no party to the conflict in Yemen is supplied – either directly or indirectly – with weapons, munitions, military equipment or technology that would be used in the conflict until they end such serious violations. This also applies to logistical and financial support for such transfers.
The embargo call goes far beyond existing international sanctions on parties to the conflict in Yemen. UN Security Council Resolution 2216, adopted in April 2015, imposed an arms embargo on Huthi/Saleh loyalist forces only. A non-binding European Parliament resolution adopted on 25 February called for the EU to seek to impose an arms embargo on Saudi Arabia, but not other parties to the conflict.
Amnesty International is calling for any authorization of arms transfers to any party to the Yemen conflict to include a strict, legally binding guarantee that the end use will be in line with international humanitarian and human rights law, and that such arms transfers will not be used in Yemen. States should explicitly inform the UN Sanctions Committee of the terms of any such transfers and end-use guarantees.
The organization is not calling for a total ban on coalition members acquiring arms lawfully for legitimate uses outside Yemen – for example, arms used for the protection of humanitarian aid or participation in peacekeeping operations.
An arms embargo would effectively rule out any arms transfer to any party to the conflict for use in Yemen while there remains a substantial risk the arms would be used to commit or facilitate war crimes or other serious violations.
States Parties to the ATT – including all EU member states – should already be implementing such end-use guarantees under their treaty obligations.
It is crucial that the embargo covers not only weapons and munitions used in aerial attacks such as military aircraft, missiles and bombs, but also equipment used in ground attacks by Huthi and coalition-aligned armed groups and militias in Yemen, such as imprecise Grad-type rocket artillery, as well as mortars, small arms and light weapons and other equipment such as armoured vehicles.
Possible war crimes on both sides
Since the start of the conflict in March 2015, Amnesty International has documented 30 airstrikes across five different governorates (Sana’a, Sa’da, Hajjah, Ta’iz and Lahj) by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition that appear to have violated international humanitarian law, resulting in 366 civilian deaths (more than half of whom were women and children) and 272 civilian injuries. These have included attacks on hospitals, schools, markets and mosques, which may constitute war crimes.
Amnesty International has also investigated 30 indiscriminate or reckless ground attacks by Huthi/Saleh-loyalist forces in the southern cities of Aden and Ta’iz which killed at least 68 civilians and injured 99 others (most of whom were women and children). Imprecise battlefield weapons are used on a daily basis in residential areas, causing civilian casualties and showing disregard for civilian lives.
Such indiscriminate attacks violate the laws of war.
Amnesty International has also documented the Saudi Arabia-led coalition’s use of at least four different types of internationally banned cluster munitions (including US and Brazilian-manufactured models) in at least five attacks in three governorates of Yemen since March 2015.
The latest attack documented took place in Sana’a on 6 January, killing a 16-year-old boy and wounding at least six other civilians.
“The fighting in Yemen has resulted in a catalogue of horrors for the civilian population. The warring parties are directly to blame for flagrantly flouting international humanitarian law and failing to take adequate measures to protect civilians and their human rights,” said Brian Wood.
Have Russian forces in Syria killed more civilians than the International Coalition allegedly killed in one year? According to the twenty-five page report published by Syrian Network For Human Rights on November 2, 2015, Russian airstrikes have killed 83 Children, 42 Women, and 129 men, bringing the number up to 253 people killed in less than one month.
SNHR states that they have “recorded not less than 57 alleged Russian airstrikes since 30 September 2015 and until 26 October 2015,” however their research reveals that only eight of those airstrikes were actually military targets. [Pdf p. 3]
Syrian Network For Human Rights, was founded in 2011, and is an independent, non-governmental human rights organization with a mission to document the human rights violations in Syria. Their website Methodology states that SNHR is a certified source of statistic and analysis for the United Nations, as well that they “are [a] reliable source for several international and regional human rights bodies, in addition to hundreds of Arab and Western Media.” [sn4hr p. 1]
SNHR website is published in six languages, and reports daily on human rights violations to the Syrian people. To date they have published approximately 120 research reports, as well they have officially recorded dozens of civilian massacres in Syria.
My understanding of the methodology used by SNHR is a broad, inclusive, and detailed series of well-constructed, and adhered steps of researching, documenting statistics, official records, witness accounts, and the analyzing and categorizing of incidents, details of each individual killed or injured, in addition to the where, what weapons, and which forces where either identified by witnesses, or had claimed responsibility for the attack.
SNHR recognizes the report’s discrepancy according to the numbers reported by Syrian governorates, and have included the following statement in their Methodology: Finally there is something very important we would like to tell in this context, that government forces by itself doesn’t recognize only by 2469 victims killed during Syrian revolution, and they stopped since 2012 from providing UN with any new files of their victims. Syrian government doesn’t have any human rights, political, even media side document and record those cases for them. [sn4hr p. 3]
The head of SNHR, Fadel Abdul Ghany has this to say, “If the Russian regime wants to play an effective political role in the Syrian crisis that it must stop the bloodshed instead of contributing to it. In one month the Russian regime killed civilians and armed opposition more than the International Coalition did in one year, in addition to displacing tens of thousands of civilians, the Russian intervention worsened the situation dramatically.” [Pdf p. 2]
In their report, Syrian Network for Human Rights documented 52 airstrikes in regions that are under the control of armed opposition.
‘For every 44 targeted civilian regions under the control of armed opposition, 5 regions under ISIL’s control were targeted. Therefore, armed opposition regions were targeted nine times more than ISIL’s regions. The following categorizes the airstrikes locations.’ [Pdf p. 3]
Not Under ISIS Control:
Under ISIS Control:
Airstrikes have killed a total of 265 individuals:
includes 83 children
includes 42 women
and 11 armed opposition gunmen
Additionally, we [SNHR] received news about the death of a great number of armed opposition members in the Kurd Mountains and in Hama suburbs, but up till this moment, we could not receive or verify the victims’ names, death toll or shelling details, and therefore we cannot include it in this report. However, almost 75% of the victims’ death toll is civilians .due to the Russian shelling. [Pdf p.3]
According to eye-witnessed accounts, Russian airstrikes have targeted the following vital facilities:
Medical Facilities: 4
Service Facilities: 3
Industrial Facilities: 1
I have summarized the twenty-three separate airstrikes where witnesses alleged Russian airstrikes caused death, or injury to civilians; excluding military targets, and bombings where no civilians were injured, or killed.
Akraybat, Hama, 4 October 2015. Warplanes shelled the town with four rockets at a sheep market in the town’s entrance:
killed 6 civilians
including 1 child
Aleppo, Adnan, 6 October 2015. Warplanes shelled four rockets on residential neighborhoods:
killed 3 civilians
including 2 children
Aleppo city, Dar Ezza, 7 October 2015. Naval forces shelled Aleppo city with two rockets:
killed 4 civilians
including 1 child
and 2 women
Idlib, Ma’art Al No’man, 7 October 2015. Warplanes launched three rockets with cluster munitions on residential neighborhood:
injured 1 child
Idlib, Ma’saran, 7 October 2015. Warplanes launched eight rockets (two with cluster munitions) on residential houses:
killed 6 civilians
including 2 children
and 3 women
Idlib, Babeela, 7 October 2015. Warplanes shelled the International highway between Aleppo and Damascus at Babeela crossroads next to a food product factory:
killed 9 civilians
Including 4 children
Idlib, Khan Shaykoun, 8 October 2015. Warplanes shelled the northern region with three rockets:
killed 3 civilians
including 1 woman
and injured 3 others
Idlib, Khan Shaykoun, 13 October 2015. Shelling targeted the northern region next to the granaries building:
killed 1 civilian
and injured 3 others
Idlib, Al Tamane’aa, 10 October 2015. Warplanes launched two rockets on a residential family home:
killed 6 people from one family
including 1 child
and 2 women
and injured 2 others
Idlib, Saraqeb City, 11 October 2015. Warplanes launched four rockets on a sheep barn:
killed the herd
and injured the shepherd
Aleppo, Hayyan, 13 October 2015. Warplanes shelled the town with rockets:
killed 7 civilians
including 5 children
and 1 woman
Aleppo, Dar Ezza, 13 October 2015. Warplanes shelled residential neighbourhoods:
killed 5 .civilians
Aleppo, Al Zeyara, 14 October 2015. Warplanes shelled the town with rockets loaded with cluster munitions:
killed one civilian
Homs, Al Ghanto, 15 October 2015. Warplanes shelled a residential building:
killed 48 civilians
including 33 children
and 13 women
Homs, Tier Ma’alee. 15 October 2015. Warplanes launched a rocket near the only bakery in the town:
including 2 children
plus 1 armed opposition gunman
Idlib, Saraqeb City, 15 October 2015. Warplanes launched two rockets on Al Ihsan Relief Foundation that destroyed the building and a nearby bakery’s building.
2 employees were injured
Aleppo, Kafr Kameen, 16 October 2015. Warplanes shelled a residential house with two rockets:
killed 11 civilians
including 5 children
and 2 women (one was several months pregnant)
Aleppo, Deir Jamal, October 2015. Warplanes launched two rockets on the provincial council building, which also served as an institution for relief aid:
injured an unknown number of employees
Aleppo, Al Barkoum, 23 October 2015. Warplanes shelled the southern Aleppo suburbs:
killed 6 civilians
including 3 children
and 2 women
Aleppo, Hayyan, 24 October 2015. Warplanes performed seven air raids where it launched not less than 8 rockets. At one of the targeted locations a rocket loaded with cluster munitions caused the following casualties:
killed two civilians
and injured 5 others, including member of the Civil Defense team
Aleppo, Hayyan, 24 October 2015. Warplane attacks on the northeastern side of the town:
killed 2 civilians
1 person was a media activist
and injured 2 others
Idlib, Al Sheikh Barakeh, 25 October 2015. Warplanes launched a rocket on the eastern neighborhood:
killed 3 civilians
including 2 children
and 1 woman
Hama, Kafr Zieta, 26 October 2015. Warplanes shelled a public hospital with two rockets:
injured 3 civilians
SNHR has included video footage documenting several of the location’s aftermath, each showing the trail of destruction and death left in the wake of airstrikes on (what appears to be Russian warplanes targeting) populated markets, homes and hospitals.
A Video that depict the shelling remnants from the alleged Russian airstrikes that targeted Dar Ezza City on 7 October 2015. A video that depicts victims who were pulled out from under the rubble of Dar Ezza bombing. A video that depicts the shelling aftermath from the alleged Russian warplanes on Ma’sareen town. A video that depicts the destruction in the school due to the alleged Russian shelling on Ein Larouz town. Videos that depict the shelling aftermath and pulling out victims’ bodies from under the :rubble when Al Ghanto town in Homs was shelled on 15 October 2015. A video that depicts the targeting of the Civil Defense members while they were aiding the victims after the alleged shelling by the Russian warplanes on Al Tamanaa’ town in Idlib on 10 October 2015. A video that depicts the shelling aftermath and how bodies were pulled out from under the rubble after the Hayyan town bombing. A video that depicts the cluster munitions’ remnants and shows one of the armed opposition members who collected the remnants and disarmed it. A video that depicts the shelling aftermath from the alleged Russian warplanes on a makeshift hospital in Al Hadder town on 15 October 2015. Videos that depict the shelling aftermath and pulling out victims’ bodies from under the rubble when Al Ghanto town in Homs was shelling on 15 October, 2015. The shelling aftermath due to the alleged Russian warplanes on Kafr Kameen in Aleppo .on 16 October 2015. A video that depicts the shelling aftermath on the Great Mosque in Zaytan town due to the alleged Russian warplanes. A video that depicts the body of the victim Waseem Al Adel.
This article references the SNHR report published November 2, 2015 titled, ‘Russian Airstrikes Kills 254 Civilians Including 83 Children and 42 Women.‘
Human Rights Watch has released a report outlining the cases of unlawful airstrikes on Yemen homes, facilities and essential services. In this article I focus on the bombings that caused fatalities to civilians; and expand with additional information.
On April 11, 2015 at about 11:45 a.m., a coalition aircraft dropped two bombs near the office of the Ministry of Education in Amran, a town under Houthi control 40 kilometers (25 miles) northwest of Sanaa. One bomb hit a single-story building housing three families about 20 meters (66 feet) outside the education ministry compound, killing four members of one family, including two women and a girl, and wounding one more.
Muhammad Saleh al-Qihwi, whose house was destroyed in the strike, said he was at the Tawheed Mosque, about 100 meters (328 feet) away, when he heard the blast:
When I got to the house, there was still dust in the air, and everything was covered in a layer of black ash. My wife and kids were lying there, covered in black ash. Thank God they were alive. I saw my sister-in-law, Asma, and her daughter under some rocks, and I tried to dig them out.
Asma’s head was open, and her leg was bleeding. Her 2-year-old daughter, Hyam, was lying on her shoulder, her head was smashed open. Her other daughter, Hasna, who’s 7, was shouting “Baba” [father]. Her hair and skin were covered in ash, and she was burned badly.
Her father, my brother Muhammad, had been asleep when the strike happened, and the roof landed on top of him. When I dug him out, there was a thin trickle of blood dripping from his ear. He was already dead.
Al-Qihwi told Human Rights Watch that as far as he knew, there were no Houthi or other military forces or structures in the area at the time of the airstrike, nor had he seen Houthis using the education ministry building. On that morning he had not seen any Houthi vehicles on the road. He said that the only other airstrike in the area had taken place a few days earlier, and had struck a park a few kilometers away, near Amran University, but he did not know what the intended target of that strike was either. 
Muhammad al-Harasi, 31, a guard at the Ministry of Education building who was present at the time of the airstrike, told Human Rights Watch that he saw anti-aircraft fire coming from a mountain a couple of kilometers to the southwest. He also said that he believed that senior officials from Amran’s administration had been meeting in a nearby house.
Human Rights Watch examined the site on July 23. Al-Qihwi’s house had been completely destroyed by the bomb blast, which had also blown out a section of the concrete wall surrounding the Ministry of Education compound. A second bomb had left a crater next to the road near the compound.
An attack on the Ministry of Education compound would have been unlawful, unless the compound was being used for military purposes. Civil authorities would not be legitimate military targets unless they were directly involved in planning or participating in military operations.
At about 3:15 p.m. on May 12, just before the afternoon prayer time, two bombs hit the Abs/Kholan Prison and other buildings in Abs, a town 150 kilometers (93 miles) north of the port city of Hodaida. Thirty-three men convicted of petty crimes were incarcerated there at the time. The strikes killed at least 25 civilians, including one woman and three children, and wounded at least 18 civilians.
Human Rights Watch examined the site on July 25. The bomb hit the prison’s mosque, at the corner of the prison compound, collapsing the structure. Ali Muhammad Hassan Mualim, 55, a local builder, told Human Rights Watch that he was chewing qatwith friends at the time of the strike, in a building about 200 meters (219 yards) away and facing the prison: 
When I heard the explosion, I went out and ran toward the prison. I saw bodies, about 30 of them, some cut in half, some with severed limbs. Sometimes I get flashbacks to that day and I get sick—I start throwing up and get headaches.
Among those killed were 17 prisoners, a prison guard, and two people in a shop near the prison, according to a medic at the hospital in Abs. Mualim said he also saw the body of a man who had been driving by the prison on his motorcycle at the time of the attack.
The second bomb struck minutes later, hitting the home of Omar Ali Farjain, about 50 meters (164 feet) from the prison, killing his wife and three of their children.
The strike injured Farjain and his daughter, Maryam, 5, who was left with burns and metal fragments in her head. The blast ripped the façade off the building and incinerated the family’s car parked in front.
Muhammad Ahmed Yahya Wadar, a government soldier who lost his brother in the attack, arrived at the scene right after the bombing:
I heard the bombing from home, and immediately came running to the prison. I saw torn bodies—legs and hands lying where the prison mosque used to be, including my brother Kamal’s. He was a guard at the prison. His son was wounded in the explosion as well.
Human Rights Watch has not been able to determine the intended target of the attack. Khalid Ali Farjain, the brother of Omar Farjain, said he had visited the prison every day since the war began to provide food to the inmates, and that he had never seen any military activity at the prison, such as weapons stored inside or nearby, or Houthi or allied military personnel.
One local resident said that a few dilapidated buildings near the prison belonged to the Yemeni military and had been used to house families of officers, but others denied this. Human Rights Watch discovered the chassis and parts of what appeared to be two military jeeps among the dilapidated buildings, but found no other signs that the area had been used for military purposes, or that people had recently lived in the buildings.
A National Security officer in Sanaa told Human Rights Watch that at the time of the strike, the Houthis had been holding several Saudi prisoners of war at the Abs/Kholan Prison. Human Rights Watch was unable to verify this information.
Since the beginning of the war, several airstrikes in other parts of Abs targeted the military airport, a military compound, and another building off the main road that residents said was being used for military purposes.
Ordinary prisons are civilian objects that may not be targeted unless they are being used for military purposes. Had the Houthis been using the prison to hold captured combatants, it would be a legitimate military objective, though any attack would need to be proportionate, not causing more civilian casualties than the anticipated military gain of the attack.
At about 4:15 p.m. on May 12, aircraft dropped at least five bombs on the Houthi-controlled town of Zabid, 96 kilometers (0.6 miles) south of the western port city of Hodaida, killing at least 60 civilians, including 13 women and eight children, and wounding at least 155.
Human Rights Watch examined the site on July 26. Three of the bombs had struck a three-story building in the middle of the Shagia market. The first bomb struck a sweets shop in the building. The second strike, which witnesses said took place about five minutes later, hit a restaurant on the building’s ground floor. The third struck the building’s second floor, causing the structure to collapse. The force of the blasts also destroyed two other buildings housing another restaurant and four grocery stores.
Abdu Ahmed Thayfi, 36, a qat seller at the Shagia market, was injured in the second strike:
I heard the first strike, and then a few minutes later, the second. I felt as if everything was spinning around me, and then it went black. I woke up and saw the muscle of my left leg torn open. My right leg bone was snapped in half. My brother Muhammad suddenly appeared and wanted to take me to the hospital, but I refused to go, because I knew they would want to amputate my leg.
Thayfi ended up having a bone transplant in his left leg and avoided an amputation.
Abdullah Amin al-Dhabi, 34, a local freelance editor, told Human Rights Watch that after hearing the explosion, he rushed to the market to find his cousin, a qat seller there:
I saw at least 50 limbs ripped apart from the fragments of the explosion. I also saw other bodies of people I could recognize in front of the Shagia restaurant.
There I saw my cousin, next to the bodies of three other people I knew: two of them were kids under the age of 12, another was a woman who used to sell bread by the door of the restaurant.
Days later, we heard that neighbors were still finding the hands and heads of other victims on their roofs and their shops. The whole area stank.
Dr. Faisal Awad, chairman of the Zabid Relief Society, which led efforts to identify the dead, told Human Rights Watch that the authorities gathered 66 unidentified body parts from the marketplace.
At the same time as the strikes hit Shagia market, two bombs fell on a lemon grove about 600 meters (656 yards) from the market, and about 50 meters (54 yards) from the entrance to the home of Ahmed Bagesh, the owner of one of the restaurants destroyed in the market attack, killing nine civilians, including two women and four children.
Three witnesses said that one of the two bombs did not explode, and that Houthi fighters came soon after the incident and removed the munition.
Just as I heard the strikes on the marketplace, there were also two strikes right outside our doorway. My sister’s husband had just left our house—he had been over for a visit—and when I ran out, I found the top half of his body lying on the path by the door. The bottom half had been blown about 10 meters away.
Thabit Hamdain, 55, a qat seller at the Shagia market, told Human Rights Watch that a large public-sector textile factory about one kilometer (0.6 miles) from the market had been producing military uniforms for the Houthis, and said he suspected this was the target of the airstrike. The factory was unaffected by the airstrikes and had not been subsequently targeted by the time Human Rights Watch visited Zabid on July 26.
Hamdain noted that the day before the airstrike he recognized three mid-level Houthi commanders eating lunch in one of the restaurants in the market.  Bagash, the restaurant owner, said that Houthi fighters often came to the market to buy qat and to eat at the restaurants, but they did not “hang around.” He also said there were no Houthi checkpoints near the market.
The presence of small numbers of Houthi military personnel at the market would not make the entire market a legitimate target for a bombing attack. A factory producing uniforms or others goods for the military would be a valid military target, but the workers inside would not be considered civilians directly participating in the hostilities.
The coalition should conduct an investigation to determine whether the attack was unlawfully indiscriminate, whether an attack on the factory during working hours was disproportionate, and whether all feasible precautions had been taken to minimize civilian casualties.
At about 10 p.m. on July 4, coalition aircraft bombed the marketplace in the middle of the village of Muthalith Ahim, about 20 kilometers south of the Saudi border in Yemen’s northwest. Because the attack occurred during the holy month of Ramadan, the area was crowded with people breaking their fast in restaurants late in the evening. The airstrike destroyed at least six buildings along the main road of the village, including a four-story building housing the Sanaa Restaurant, a small shop and hotel, and a water truck and car parked outside.
Human Rights Watch examined the site on July 24 and spoke to the staff of four hospitals that received the dead and wounded, as well as officials with the Ministry of Human Rights.
The attack killed at least 65 people, including at least six African migrants and three children, and wounded at least 105.
Forty of the wounded who were sent to al-Jumhouri Hospital in Hajja were suffering from metal fragment injuries, and most needed surgery, according to a nurse who was on call that night.
Muhammad Hassan, 35, a waiter at Sanaa Restaurant who was wounded in the attack, told Human Rights Watch that several hours earlier, there had been a strike on a gas station about two kilometers (1.2 miles) further north. Then, about an hour later, there was a strike on a football field about one kilometer (0.6 miles) away, and at the same time another strike on an empty building about two kilometers away.
He said he had heard from some people in town that the Houthis were using the empty building to store weapons. None of the other interviewees raised this allegation with Human Rights Watch.
Hassan estimated that at the time of the strike, there were about 50 people in the restaurant, and about 100 in the hotel above.
Outside the restaurant, there was a large open space with fishmongers and people selling vegetables, cell phones, qat, and other items.
He believed that there were also about 50 to 60 African migrants, as well as many displaced Yemenis from northern border villages, sitting on the steps of the restaurant at the time of the bombing. Hassan told Human Rights Watch:
I was outside in the alley beside the restaurant taking out the trash when the strike hit. I saw fire and smelled gunpowder. The pressure of the explosion threw me back about 10 meters into a pile of trash bags. I tasted blood, and felt a pain in my chest, and then I lost consciousness. I woke up here at the Hajja hospital, only to find out that 13 waiters from the restaurant who worked with me were killed in the explosion.
Muhammad’s doctor said he had metal fragment injuries to his left shoulder, chest, and right leg. After multiple surgeries, Muhammad had yet to regain movement in his left arm.
Salem al-Mashwali, 40, a truck driver who was in the market at the time, described the scene after the explosion:
I counted 45 bodies intact, many lying under the stalls of the qat sellers. I saw other bodies that had been shattered to bits, some already stiff. People all around me were shouting. I saw the driver of the water truck, a friend of mine, and his assistant both dead in the vehicle, as it was burning. I witnessed a terrible thing, a very scary scene.
Dr. Adnan al-Wazzan, a pharmacist at al-Jumhouri Hospital in Hajja, some 140 kilometers (87 miles) away, drove an ambulance to Muthalith Ahim after the strike:
We got news of the strike about 30 minutes after it happened, but we waited two hours before leaving because we were scared the coalition might target us on the road. We finally left at 12:30 a.m. While on the road we passed a truck carrying 23 of the victims—we stopped the driver to see if we should help the people on the truck or keep driving. It was piled high with bodies, heads open and bleeding. Two of the people in the truck were already dead, another 10 were near death. We kept on driving and made it to the Bani Hassan medical center [in Hajja, about 30 kilometers (19 miles) south of Muthalith Ahim], where most of the wounded had been brought. I will never forget the scene—there were bodies all over the floor.
Abd al-Rauf al-Silwi, 52, a mechanical engineer who went to the site of the bombing early the next morning, told Human Rights Watch:
When I arrived, there were still many bodies—most of their faces looked normal, like they were sleeping, just with some marks from metal fragments. In front of Sanaa Restaurant, I saw one man with his backbone sticking out of his neck. By the qat market, I saw dozens of bodies, charred, some headless, others without legs. I saw 10 bodies inside the Hadramawt Restaurant, many missing their arms and legs, all killed while they were in the middle of having their dinner. The arm of one man was still attached to the large water cooler by the entrance. A water truck had exploded, and I saw the head of the driver hanging off the end of what was left of the truck.
It is not clear if any Houthi or allied fighters were killed in the attack. Al-Mashwali, the truck driver, told Human Rights Watch there had been a Houthi checkpoint about 50 meters (55 yards) from where the strike hit, manned by 10 to 12 Houthi fighters.
Witnesses who spoke to Human Rights Watch said the strike did not damage the checkpoint.
Even if the checkpoint, a legitimate military objective, was the target of the attack, the coalition should conduct an investigation to determine if all feasible precautions were taken to minimize the harm to civilians, and whether the attack as carried out was unlawfully indiscriminate or disproportionate.
Starting about 4:30 p.m. on July 6, bombs hit two locations in the governorate of Amran, north of Sanaa, killing at least 29 civilians, including a woman and 15 children, and wounding at least 20 civilians.
The first strike hit an area known as Bawn market, where vegetable sellers gather near the main road between Amran and Raydah, about 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) northeast of Amran City.
Mufarih, 35, a potato seller who only goes by his first name, told Human Rights Watch he was walking towards the local mosque because he had missed the afternoon prayer, when the bomb hit:
I suddenly saw all this dust rise and felt something hit my back, and then I blacked out. I woke up at Raydah Hospital at about 6 p.m. The doctors had removed a metal fragment from my back. I later went back to the site of the strike and saw how close I had been, I was only 15 meters away from where the bomb landed.
Nishwan, 21, a vegetable seller who only goes by his first name, described the blast to Human Rights Watch:
“It was like fire lifting me into the air. My leg was broken in three places. I tried to stand up, but couldn’t.” 
Radwan Yahya Ahmed, 25, a fruit seller injured in the strike, showed Human Rights Watch his wounds. Doctors had to remove large pieces of skin from his shoulders to transplant to his cheeks. He and other witnesses to the strike interviewed by Human Rights Watch said that they had not seen any Houthi or allied military vehicles on the road at the time of the strike, nor did they know of any military targets in the area.
The Bawn market strike killed at least 10 civilians, including nine children, and wounded at least six.
Minutes later, a second bomb struck the Jawb market along the road just over one kilometer (0.62 miles) further north, damaging a gas station, a car outside the local mosque, and the home of Mansour Ahmed Taqi, 40, a local farmer. The market had been there for at least two years and was the largest in the area, attracting hundreds of people daily.
Faten Saleh said she was standing at the doorway of her home with her baby and her older son and daughter when the bomb hit the first market.
She saw her husband, ZahirMabkhoot Taqi, running towards her with their son Taqi, 9, close behind:
He [Zahir] was calling and waving at me to grab my bag and to leave the house as quickly as possible, saying that the planes might bomb us as well. About 15 meters (16 yards) from our house, suddenly another bomb landed. A piece of metal hit him in the back and cut through his side, killing him. We found Taqi’s body ripped to pieces. My husband’s cousin was close by, but was only wounded. My husband was just a simple farmer, but later on TV, they said he was a Houthi trainer. I don’t know why they would lie about that, but I promise you it’s not true.
Mabkhoot al-Jawbi, a local farmer, 70, said his son, grandson, aged 17, and two cousins were killed in the blast. He helped with the burial at the local mosque and said that he helped with 17 funerals of local villagers.
Mansour Ahmad Taqi, another relative of Zahir Taqi, said he was home when the strike hit, damaging part of his house.
When he came to the gate, he saw at least 20 wounded and dead lying in the market place, at least three in the car outside the local mosque, another person lying at the gate of the mosque, and another three people lying near the entrance to the home of Zahir Taqi—namely Zahir, his son Taqi Zahir Mabkhoot Taqi, aged 9, and his cousin Habib Saleh Taqi. “His son’s hand was found inside the electricity meter of the house on the other side of the road days later,” Mansour Taqi told Human Rights Watch.
The Jawb market strike killed 22 people, at least 19 of them civilians, including one woman and six children, and wounded 14.
Four of the dead were members of the Taqi family.
Three people who were in a car at the time of the attack had not been identified at the time that Human Rights Watch visited, so it was not possible to determine whether they were civilians.
Al-Jawbi told Human Rights Watch that after the attack, there was no more market in the area:
“Now there is nothing. People are afraid.” He said that he was unaware of any military targets in the area, such as military vehicles, at the time of the strike.
According to Khaled Sanad, the representative of an aid organization linked to the Houthis, a third airstrike hit a security checkpoint south of Amran, about 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) away, at about the same time as the attack on the two markets, killing four Houthi members manning the checkpoint and three civilians who were on the road at the time.
On August 8, starting at 8:30 p.m., coalition aircraft dropped five bombs in the span of several minutes, destroying eight homes in the village of Shara`a, located in southern Ibb governorate’s Radhma district. The village has a population of about 800 people.
The strikes killed eight civilians, including three women and three children, and left at least two civilians wounded.
The al-Salam military base, which was occupied by Houthi forces, is located two kilometers (1.2 miles) from the village. Although the base was apparently not struck, 10 minutes before bombs hit Shara`a, two strikes hit the Al-Ahram event hall, located next to the base.
Human Rights Watch was not able to visit the village, but spoke to seven residents by telephone.
At 8:30 p.m. the first bomb hit the home of Mane`a al-Haddi, killing his mother, wife, sister and his sister’s two children, ages 6 and 7. The blast wounded him as well. He told Human Rights Watch:
The first strike that hit the village targeted my house. I ran out to see what had happened, despite being injured. But two minutes later, my cousin’s house was hit by a second bomb. Then minutes later, two more fell, one on my house again, and a fourth on my cousin’s house again.
Another resident described the scene after the first strike:
I never expected to see something similar, people running around and crying. It was horrific. We were trying to pull some of the people out the rubble when two minutes later another bomb fell and sent us running.
Minutes after the first strike, a bomb hit the home of Sheikh Muhammad al-Haddi, a retired army general, only a few meters from the first strike. His home was a gathering place for many in the village, who used his generator to charge their cellphones and laptops because it was the only house with reliable electricity. There were about 70 people at his house at the time of the strike, charging their devices, watching TV, playing cards, talking, and chewing qat, according to Mane`a al-Haddi, who was there at the time.
The attack severely damaged Sheikh al-Haddi’s house and left it uninhabitable. Two men who ran from the house after the initial blast on the home of Mane`a al-Haddi were killed.
The blast also destroyed the home of his neighbor, Nagi al-Masan, killing 3-year-old Saeed Waheb Tanbash, who was inside at the time.
About two minutes later, two more bombs hit at the same time, one on the southern corner of Mane`a al-Haddi’s home, and one by the entrance to Sheikh al-Haddi’s house. Two minutes later a fifth bomb fell on the neighboring home of Naji Saleh Hadash, a retired military officer.
Mane`a al-Haddi told Human Rights Watch, “It is the first time our village witnessed anything like this, the village is still in a state of terror. Even the dogs run away whenever a plane passes by now.”
Nasir Mohsen al-Thaibani, a 33-year-old local resident, told Human Rights Watch that at the time of the strikes, Houthi forces were at the al-Salam military base, but he said the base was not hit by any of the airstrikes.
All of the witnesses interviewed said that there were no Houthi or allied forces in the village or passing through at the time of the strikes.
At about 12:30 a.m. on July 12, an airstrike killed 23 people, all from the same family, including seven women and 14 children, from the ages of 2 months to 16 years, in Sanaa’s residential neighborhood of Sawan. The strike also wounded 31 people. The area is populated by the marginalized muhamashee people part of Yemen’s minority group, about 11 percent of the population, that suffers social segregation and discrimination, including in accessing public education and employment.
Human Rights Watch examined the site on July 20. The blast destroyed 10 small, single-story houses and damaged another 50. Remnants of the control fins of a laser-guided bomb were photographed by Amnesty International at the site of the attack.
We were unable to discern whether the bomb was deliberately guided to the impact point or whether there was a malfunction of the guidance system or other mistake that caused the bomb to strike this spot.
Residents told Human Rights Watch that an airstrike hit the External Medical Clinic, a military medical facility located next to the Military Engineers’ Compound, about 500 meters away, about five minutes after the strike on the homes. Human Rights sought access to the compound, but armed guards denied us entry, saying they would need to get authorization.
Majid al-Jamal, 30, whose relatives were killed in the blast, said he was sleeping at the time the bomb struck:
I didn’t hear the strike itself, or the plane. But I awoke to the sound of bricks being smashed against the side of my home. I jumped out of bed and rushed outside and saw burned bodies, but I could not do anything to help.
Yumna Obayth, 35, a mother of 10 whose house was damaged in the strike, said:
Why, I ask, why would they bomb us? We have no guns, no food, nothing. We are poor. They brought down the house over the heads of my children. Now we are living outside in the street, what can I do?
The Military Engineers’ Compound was a legitimate military target. The nearby military medical facility was not a valid military target—medical facilities, including those serving military personnel, may not be targeted unless they are being used to commit hostile acts and a warning has been given. The proximity of the hospital to the engineer’s compound unnecessarily placed it at risk of being damaged in an attack on the compound.
At about 2 a.m. on July 19, airstrikes killed at least 16 civilians, including three women and nine children, and wounded at least 16 civilians, in Yareem town, about 120 kilometers (75 miles) south of Sanaa.
Human Rights Watch examined the site on July 22. The strike had partially damaged, and in some cases completely destroyed, 11 one-story residential homes and a two-story building.
Human Rights Watch also established that the site is located about 200 meters (219 yards) from the entrance to the 55th Rocket Artillery Brigade.
Residents told Human Rights Watch that since the beginning of the air campaign in March, and on that night, they heard anti-aircraft guns being fired from the base. One nearby resident said that the now-dismantled Republican Guard, the military wing under the command of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh’s son, Ahmed Ali Abdullah Saleh, had controlled the base since 1994.
The base had been the main depot of Scud ballistic missiles for the Yemeni military, the resident said, but those had been removed about four years ago, and now the main weapons at the base were artillery rockets. There had been as many as 2,000 troops at the base in the past, he said, but only 300 troops were there since current conflict started.
Local residents told Human Rights Watch that at about 1:30 a.m., three strikes hit the military base at 10-minute intervals. The fourth strike hit the residential area.
Sabah Saleh Ahmed al-Boghomy, 50, said she and her husband owned most of the houses in the neighborhood, and her relatives lived in several of them. She said she was asleep at the time of the strike and was awakened by her daughter screaming and shaking her, saying that planes were bombing the military base. Al-Boghomy tried to calm her by taking her outside:
After we left the home, all of a sudden the windows of the house shattered and the roof collapsed. We heard a loud explosion but had no idea that it was in our own yard. At the time my three sons, their wives and children and my two [other] daughters were still inside the house…. I remember hearing my neighbor screaming, “Save my children, save me, we are under the rubble!”
Her family survived the attack without injury, but she said she knew of at least 12 neighbors who were killed in the strike. The attack destroyed six of their family homes and three cars.
A local resident, Hana Saad al-Nazhi, told Human Rights Watch that when she heard the first explosion, she grabbed her children and hid in a small room in their home:
We stayed in that room while all the strikes happened, so I assumed that my brothers were safe and had escaped, only to realize when I went outside that one strike had hit my brother’s house. It wiped his house to the ground, they blew it up and killed him and his daughters… What was the military target in my brother’s house?
Another brother, Radwan Saad al-Nazhi, came to the site of the strike after hearing the blasts from his home, located a few streets away.
He told Human Rights Watch that altogether eight members of two of his brothers’ families were killed, five of them children.
His sister, Hana Saad al-Nazhi, and her children were the only ones who survived the airstrike, but with injuries:
I am not employed, my brothers were, I am not. I make a living doing odd jobs in the streets.… I had to take my sister and her three kids out of the hospital because I could not pay their bill.
Muhammad al-Faqih, 45, said he was sitting in his living room when he heard the initial strikes on the military base. He grabbed his clothes and woke his five children and wife, telling them to get dressed and be ready to leave. His son Osama al-Faqih, 20, was walking down the steps out of the house just as the strike hit about 20 meters (7 feet) from the door of their home. Muhammad al-Faqih, standing behind him just inside the door, was blown back into the house:
We scrambled to our feet and got out of the house, and I heard cries. I turned to my left and saw my neighbor, an older woman. She was lying on the ground, with a large rock crushing her legs. She was begging us to help her so we did. After we helped move it, we rushed off to get my son, who we realized was injured, to the hospital. As we got to the main road we saw another neighbor, Salma, wandering along, and wailing for help. She was badly burned and her head was open and gushing blood.… I don’t know what happened to her.
Osama had a metal shard lodged in his neck that the doctors planned to remove, Muhammad al-Faqih told Human Rights Watch. He said that they were lucky that other families had helped to pay their medical bill. His house was only slightly damaged by the strike.
Ali Muhammad al-Milah was in his house, which was destroyed in the strike, at the time of the blast:
I didn’t see anything when the explosion happened, it was all black. My ears started ringing, they are still ringing now, days later. I came back the next morning and saw five bodies just lying on the ground, including the bodies of two young kids. Only yesterday when I was here they found the body of another kid, a young girl. They pulled her out of the rubble.
Another resident said he heard a fifth strike about 10 minutes later, again on the military base. The military base was a legitimate military target. The attack that struck the residential neighborhood should be investigated by the coalition to determine if it was unlawfully targeted and whether all feasible precautions had been taken to minimize civilian loss of life and property.
Mokha Steam Power Plant
On July 24, in a series of attacks that began between 9:30 and 10 p.m., coalition aircraft repeatedly struck two residential compounds of the Mokha Steam Power Plant, which housed plant workers and their family members, killing at least 65 civilians, including 13 women and 10 children, and wounding at least 55.
The plant is located outside Mokha City, a western port about 280 kilometers (174 miles) southwest of Sanaa. The main residential compound is one kilometer (0.6 miles) from the power plant, and the smaller compound is adjacent to the plant.
Human Rights Watch examined the site on July 26. Craters and building damage showed that six bombs had struck the plant’s main residential compound. This compound housed at least 200 families, according to the plant’s director general. One bomb had struck a separate compound for short-term workers about a kilometer (0.6 miles) north of the main compound, destroying the water tank for the compounds, and two bombs had struck the beach and an intersection nearby. Bombs hit two apartment buildings in the main compound directly, collapsing part of their roofs.
Other bombs exploded between the buildings, including in the main courtyard, stripping the exterior walls off dozens of apartments, leaving only the load-bearing pillars standing. Workers and residents at the compounds told Human Rights Watch that one or more aircraft dropped nine bombs in separate sorties in intervals of a few minutes.
Wajida Ahmed Najid, 37, a resident in one of the compounds, whose husband is a plant employee, said that when the first strike hit, she grabbed her three children close and they huddled together hoping the danger would pass:
After the third strike, the entire building began to collapse on top of us. Then I knew we needed to leave because it was not safe to stay. I grabbed my girls and we started running in the direction of the beach, but as we were running pieces of metal were flying everywhere, and one hit Malak, my 9-year-old daughter. Thank God she is going to be okay. While we were running, I saw bodies, seven of them, just lying on the ground, in pieces.
A doctor at Amal Hospital in Hodaida told Human Rights Watch that they had removed a metal fragment from Malak’s abdomen.
Khalil Abdullah Idriss, 35, a nurse at the plant’s clinic, said that he rushed to al-Salam clinic in Mokha City when he heard news of the attack. There, he and other medics administered basic first aid, then sent the wounded on to hospitals in Hodaida. He said that within an hour of the airstrikes, they had received at least 30 wounded and eight bodies. At 1 a.m., he said, he went to the main compound:
As I walked through the gates, I saw my friend, an engineer at the plant, Abdu Samid al-Subaie. He was lying on the ground, just outside his apartment. He had a deep gash to his waist and he was bleeding to death as his two children lay at his side screaming and crying. But it was hopeless. At the same time, the airplanes were still buzzing above us. We could hear them for hours afterward.
Loai Nabeel, 20, who works at a shop in the compound, said he rushed to his family’s apartment when the attack started. A second bomb hit the apartment before he got there, collapsing the roof. He found his mother and younger brother by the entrance and brought them to the beach before he went back to search for his sisters Hadeel, 12, and Taghreed, 17:
It was dark. It took me 10 minutes to find Hadeel under the rubble. The bomb hit the roof of the room where she was sleeping and her head was seriously wounded. I found Taghreed in another room with minor injuries to her head. Hadeel is still in a coma.
Power plants that produce electricity used by the military are legitimate military targets. However, the harm incurred to the civilian population by an attack on a power plant can be enormous, making its destruction unlawfully disproportionate, as the long-term harm to civilians will be far greater than the immediate military gain.
The Mokha power plant, built in 1986, was not struck in the attack. Human Rights Watch found no sign that either of the two residential compounds for the power plants had been used for military purposes. More than a dozen workers and residents said that there had been no Houthi or other military forces at the compounds.
Early in the morning of July 25, a news ticker on Al-Arabiya TV, a Saudi-owned media outlet, reported that coalition forces had attacked a military air defense base in Mokha. The ticker was swiftly taken down and the story can no longer be found anywhere on Al-Arabiya’s website.
Human Rights Watch identified a military facility about 800 meters (875 yards) southeast of the Mokha Steam Power Plant’s main compound, which plant workers said had been a military air defense base. The plant workers said that it had been empty for months, and Human Rights Watch saw no activity or personnel at the base from the outside, except for two guards.
Al-Sham Water Bottling Factory
On August 30 at about 3:50 a.m., an airstrike hit Al-Sham Water Bottling Factory in the outskirts of Abs. The strike destroyed the factory and killed 14 workers, including three boys, who were nearing the end of their night shift, and wounded 11 more. Many of the dead and wounded, as well as the owner of the factory, were from the same family.
Hamza Abdu Muhammad Rouzom, 26, a factory worker present at the time of the explosion, told Human Rights Watch he was on the shift that started at 8 p.m. and was set to end at 5 a.m.:
Because we work with noisy machines, if there were planes flying overhead, we would not have heard them. The explosion was almost like a dream, it all happened so quickly. I heard a whizzing sound for a second, then a huge explosion. I lost consciousness for at least 30 minutes, and when I woke up I saw people were trying to help me. I was covered in blood and dust and had a big cut on my right foot. They carried me to my car, and as they did, I looked around me and saw fire everywhere. I saw my friends and coworkers wounded, some completely burned. It was one of the worst moments of my life.
He was taken to a hospital in Hodaida, but because of a lack of medical supplies, was transferred to a second hospital soon after.
Khaled Ibrahim Musaed, 34, a journalist who lives about 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) from the factory, said that coalition aircraft carried out more than a dozen strikes on a range of military and government installations that night in other parts of Hajja governorate, and the strike on the factory was the last.
Two workers at the plant told Human Rights Watch that this was the only strike in the direct vicinity and that they knew of no military targets close to the area.
Later on August 30, after the airstrike, Brig. Gen. Ahmed al-Assiri, the military spokesman for the coalition, reportedly told Reuters that the plant had been used by the Houthis to make explosive devices, and was not, in fact, a bottling factory All of the individuals Human Rights Watch interviewed said that plant was being used to bottle water and was not used for any military purposes.
A group of international journalists traveled to the site of the blast two days after it was hit and reported that they could not find evidence of any military targets in the area.
They said that they carefully examined the site, and took photos and videos of piles of scorched plastic bottles melted together from the heat of the explosion. They could not find any evidence that the factory was being used for military purposes.
This report was researched and written by Belkis Wille, researcher for the Middle East and North Africa division, with assistance from Ole Solvang, senior researcher in the Emergencies division, and former Yemen research assistants Osamah al-Fakih and Abdullah Qaid.
Joe Stork and Michael Page, Middle East and North Africa division deputy directors, Ole Solvang, senior researcher in the Emergencies division, and Robin Shulman, program editor, edited the report. James Ross, legal and policy director, provided legal review. Mark Hiznay, senior researcher in the Arms division, Josh Lyons, satellite imagery analyst, Bede Sheppard, deputy director of the Children’s Rights division, and Adam Coogle, Middle East and North Africa researcher, provided specialist review. Sandy Elkhoury, Middle East and North Africa senior associate, Kathy Mills, publications specialist, and Jose Martinez, senior coordinator, prepared the report for publication.