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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 December 2018

Britain condemns Houthi attacks against Saudi Arabia and Red Sea shipping

London welcomed speed of Arab Coalition’s probe into bus strike

Saudi soldiers uncover the remains of a missile fired into Saudi Arabia by Yemen's Houthi rebels. AFP
Saudi soldiers uncover the remains of a missile fired into Saudi Arabia by Yemen's Houthi rebels. AFP

Britain has condemned the Iran-backed Houthi rebels for their attacks on Red Sea shipping and missile launches at Saudi Arabian territory, accusing them of showing a reckless disregard for civilian life.

"The Government condemns the attacks against Red Sea shipping, and regular missile attacks against Saudi Arabia which have been launched by the Houthis with Iranian support," the British Foreign Office said in a statement on Sunday.

"These attacks have targeted residential areas and shown no regard for civilian life. Coalition countries have a legitimate right to defend their own territory."

Yemen's warring parties are set for UN-brokered indirect peace talks in Geneva this week, likely to focus on a prisoner exchange deal and the fate of the Red Sea port of Hodeidah, government officials said Sunday.

The Saudi-led Arab Coalition is battling the Houthis to recapture population centres that the group seized from 2015 onwards.

The Coalition on Saturday expressed regret for “mistakes” in carrying out a recent airstrike against Houthi rebel commanders that led to numerous civilian deaths and casualties in north Yemen. The Coalition said it was ready to start legal proceedings against those responsible for the mistakes and would look to see what lessons could be learned in order to improve the rules of engagement in order to prevent further civilian deaths.

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Read more:

Coalition: Yemen strike targeted ballistic missile planners, not civilians

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Hopes for peace in Yemen turn to Geneva

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Britain welcomed the statement and the pace of the Coalition's investigation into the strike.

"We welcome the speed of the investigation into the incident of 9 August, and the Coalition’s announcement of regret and action to address the recommendations of that investigation. We are reviewing the investigation's conclusions," the Foreign Office statement continued.

“The UK urges all parties to the conflict to do everything possible to protect innocent civilians and to demonstrate their commitment to International Humanitarian Law.

London blamed the Houthi rebels for initiating the conflict by taking over parts of Yemeni territory, including Hodeidah and the capital, Sanaa.

"This conflict began following a seizure of power in some parts of Yemen by the Houthis, forcing out the legitimate government from these areas," it said. "The urgency now is for everyone to enable and support the UN-sponsored political process beginning with talks in Geneva on 6 September."