Investigators rebut allegations against Arab Coalition
The Joint Incident Assessment Team looked into five claims of strikes against civilian targets in Yemen
A special investigative panel has dismissed five allegations of Arab Coalition strikes on civilians targets during fighting against Houthi rebels in Yemen.
Mansour Al Mansour, spokesman for the Joint Incident Assessment Team (JIAT) which was set up by the Saudi-led coalition, announced the panel's findings at King Salman Air Base in Riyadh on Sunday, Saudi Press Agency reported.
The allegations were made by the United Nations High Commissioner for the Human Rights, the International Committee of the Red Cross, Human Rights Watch and Yemeni media.
In the first case, an alleged air strike on the Bab Aden Water Reservoir on July 8, 2015, Mr Al Mansour said the panel found that the coalition had carried out air strikes in Aden that day, but on military targets several kilometres from the reservoir and seven hours before the time claimed by the Red Cross.
“The closest target to Bab Aden Water Reservoir was 5,500 metres away,” Mr Al Mansour said.
On an alleged strike on Aden's Al Hosaini Mosque on July 14, 2015, reported by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr Al Mansour said the coalition had attacked a gathering of Houthi rebels four kilometres away.
He said the panel reviewed satellite images of the area from the day after and confirmed the location of the strike and that the mosque showed no signs of any damage.
The panel also used satellite images to rebut the rights commissioner's accusation that the coalition had hit a qat market in Saada province three times on September 19, 2015, killing at least 25 people.
Mr Al Mansour said the investigators found that the coalition had carried out two air strikes in Saada on that day, but that the nearest target to the qat market was a cave used by Houthis as weapons storage, located 100km away.
The fourth allegation investigated by the panel, issued in a report by Human Rights Watch, said the coalition had bombed the Chamber of Commerce in Sanaa city on January 5, 2016, injuring a security guard and destroying the eastern wall of the three-storey building.
Mr Al Mansour said the Arab Coalition struck the building after receiving intelligence that the Houthis was using it as a military barracks and headquarters. By doing so, the rebels had made the building a legitimate military target, he said.
The last allegation reviewed was of an attack on a crowded treatment centre for cholera patients in Qahaza district of Sadaa on June 3, 2017. Yemeni media reports said the air strike destroyed the medical facility and injured dozens of people.
As with the other claims, the panel examined all related documents including the coalition's daily mission schedule, after-mission reports, satellite images and other evidence, Mr Al Mansour said.
He said the JIAT found that coalition air forces had carried out three strikes on Houthi missile storage sites three kilometres away from the hospital and scored direct hits, while satellite images of the health centre found it to be intact and undamaged by air strikes.
Mr Al Mansour said the investigation panel was still reviewing 70 other allegations made against the coalition and would continue to report its findings.
Updated: July 16, 2018 04:09 PM