Yemen allegations by international bodies refuted

By DG Staff

RIYADH 18 December 2019: The Official Spokesman for the Joint Incident Assessment Team (JIAT) in Yemen has refuted a number of allegations made by UN agencies, international organisations and media outlets, alleging mistakes made by the coalition forces to support legitimacy, in Yemen, during its military operations inside Yemen.

Saudi Press Agency (SPA) and Wam said Legal Adviser Mansour Al Mansour reviewed, during a press conference held by the Armed Forces Officers Club yesterday, the results of the evaluation of four incidents included in those allegations.

With regard to the statement of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights issued on (12/02/2018), which includes that on (04/02/2018) three air strikes hit a building (Ministry of Interior) in (Thahban) neighborhood in (Bani Al Harith) directorate of the capital (Sana’a), eight civilians including a woman and a child were killed and (32) others were injured, the statement also stated that UN human rights monitors who visited the scene, said there did not appear to be any military objects near the building, which had previously been hit in (06/01/2016).

Incident Vetted

The JIAT vetted the incident, and reviewed all documents, including procedures and rules of engagement, daily mission schedule, after mission report, video recordings of the mission, satellite images, provisions and principles of International Humanitarian Law and its customary rules, and assessment of evidences, JIAT found that Coalition Forces received intelligence information indicating that Al Houthi armed militia seized the (General Department of Criminal Evidence), and used it as a weapons depot to support its military operations, which is considered to be a legitimate military target that its destruction would achieve a military advantage based on Article (52) paragraph (2) of the First Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions.

Periodic intelligence reports shows the establishment of an armed checkpoint belonging to Al Houthi armed militia on the road opposite the (General Department of Criminal Evidence) to prevent civilians from approaching and entering the building, and with the availability of verification degrees where Coalition forces intensified surveillance activities, which confirmed military activities at the site in the morning of the targeting, consisting of armed vehicles and a gathering of combatants around them, it was confirmed that there were no movements of civilians around the building, based on the customary rule (16) of customary International Humanitarian Law, the legal protection of the civilian objects the (General Department of Criminal Evidence) was lost for the seizure of it by Al-Houthi armed militia, and the use of it to support the war effort, in accordance with Article (52), paragraph (3) of the First Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions.

At (10:10) am on Sunday (04/02/2018), Coalition Forces conducted an aerial mission on a weapons depot in the (General Department of Criminal Evidence) building, using two guided bombs that hit their targets.

By studying the video of the targeting, it was clear that the two bombs hit their targets, and thus achieved the desired military advantage.

The claim included that the building in question was targeted earlier (6/1/2016), JIAT reviewed the daily mission schedule on (6/1/2016), and found that the Coalition Forces did not perform any air missions on (building) of the claim.

In light of that, JIAT found that the procedures taken by Coalition Forces in dealing with the legitimate military target, weapons depot in the (General Department of Criminal Evidence) building, in in the Capital (Sana’a) were correct and in accordance with the International Humanitarian Law and its customary rules, and that the Coalition Forces did not target the same building on (6/1/2016).

With regard to what was monitored by JIAT in one of the media, that on (07/11/2018) at about (02:30), an airplane began flying over the area of ??(Ram), and at about (06:30), an air strike hit a courtyard beside a (residential cottage) in (Ram) area in (Mustaba) district of (Hajjah) governorate, while a family was having breakfast, (5) civilians were killed, the family relatives came out of two nearby cottages to find out what happened, a second air strike was launched about seven minutes after the first strike, killing (2) and wounding (3) others.

The JIAT vetted the incident, and reviewed all documents, including procedures and rules of engagement, daily mission schedule, after mission report, satellite images, provisions and principles of International Humanitarian Law and its customary rules, and assessment of evidences, JIAT found that the closest air mission carried out by the Coalition Forces on the date of the claim (07/11/2018), was on a legitimate military target a (cannon) belonging to Al-Houthi armed militia in (Saada) governorate, at a distance of (44) km from (Ram) area in (Mustaba) district of (Hajjah) governorate, JIAT also found that the Coalition Forces did not carry out any air missions at (06:30) hours of the claimed date (07/11/2018) inside Yemen.

After studying the daily mission schedule for the previous day and the day after the date of the claim, JIAT found the following: 1. On Tuesday (06/11/2018), the day before the date of the claim, it was found that the closest air mission carried out by the Coalition Forces was on a legitimate military target (a cannon), located (16) km southwest of (Ram) area.

2. On Thursday (08/11/2018), the day after the date of the claim, it was found that the closest air mission carried out by the Coalition Forces was on a legitimate military target a (tank) located (19) km west of the (Ram) area.

In light of that, JIAT found that Coalition Forces did not target a residential cottage in (Ram) area in (Mustaba) district of (Hajjah) governorate on (07/11/2018) as claimed.

With regard to the report of (Amnesty International) issued in (October 2015), which includes that at (12:30) on the afternoon of (13/06/2015), Coalition Forces bombed a (house) in (Al-Safra) a village southeast of (Sa’ada) city, killing (10) civilians and wounding (7) others from one family, Amnesty International visited the site three weeks after the attack, and found no up normal things in the rubble of the house, and no evidence of a military presence inside or around the house, and the organization’s researchers did not find evidence to prove that the inhabitants of the house were male combatants, and none of them were present at the time of the strike except one.

The JIAT vetted the incident, and reviewed all documents, including procedures and rules of engagement, daily mission schedule, after mission report, satellite images, provisions and principles of International Humanitarian Law and its customary rules, and assessment of evidences, JIAT found that on Wednesday (10/06/2015), intelligence information was received by Coalition Forces regarding a (building) belonging to a prominent leader of Al-Houthi armed militia in (Wadi Dammaj) in (Al-Safra) district of (Sa’ada) governorate, used to hold meetings between Houthi leaderships to support the war effort, and its annex (hangar) used to store equipment and weapons to support the front lines, it was considered to be a legitimate military target, that the destruction of it would achieve a military advantage based on Article (52) paragraph (2) of the First Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions.

The availability of degrees of verification through intensifying the (reconnaissance and surveillance) operations by the Coalition Forces on the target site (building) confirmed that the two Houthi senior commanders where at the building, in addition to ground sources inside Yemen based on customary rule (16), as well as to determine the appropriate time to carry out the military operation to ensure the presence of the two senior commanders from Al-Houthi armed militia, therefore the legal protection of the civilian objects (building of the claim and its annex hangar) was lost for the use of it to support the front lines, in accordance with Article (52), paragraph (3) of the First Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions.

At (12:00) pm on Saturday (13/06/2015), Coalition Forces conducted an air mission on two high-value military targets, a (building) used to hold meetings between Al-Houthi armed militia leaderships to support the war effort as well as (two prominent leaders) were inside it, and its annex (hangar) used to store equipment and weapons to support the front lines, using two guided bombs that hit their targets.

JIAT also found that Coalition forces took possible precautions to minimize damages, by using two guided bombs commensurate with the size of the targets based on Article (17) of the Customary Rules of International Humanitarian Law, which resulted in achieving the desired military advantage, by killing one of the prominent leaders and injuring the other leader.

By studying the satellite images of the targeted building, it was found that there were traces of an aerial targeting on the southwest corner of the targeted building, as well as partial damage resulting from aerial targeting on the northern side of the (hangar).

In light of that, JIAT found that the procedures taken by Coalition Forces in dealing with the legitimate military targets, a (building) used to hold meetings between Al-Houthi armed militia leaderships to support the war effort, as well as (two prominent leaders) were inside it, and its annex (hangar) used to store equipment and weapons to support the front lines, were correct and in accordance with the International Humanitarian Law and its customary rules.

With regard to the statement of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial summary or arbitrary executions, that on (25/12/2017) an airstrikes targeted the house of the (Egyptian Memorial) guard in (Asr) area, west of the capital (Sana’a), killing (11) civilians and injuring (4) others, the house of the guard was destroyed and the memorial was partially damaged.

The JIAT vetted the incident, and reviewed all documents, including procedures and rules of engagement, daily mission schedule, after mission report, video recordings of the mission, satellite images, provisions and principles of International Humanitarian Law and its customary rules, and assessment of evidences, JIAT found that intelligence information was received stating the presence of (armed elements belonging to Al-Houthi armed militia and gatherings) for the purpose of safe guarding a meeting of Houthi leaders, in a building at the (Egyptian Memorial) site, in (Asr) area of the capital (Sana’a), the ground sources at the target site confirmed that information, which is considered to be a legitimate military target that the destruction of it would achieve a military advantage based on Article (52) paragraph (2) of the First Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions, and customary rule (8) of the customary International Humanitarian Law.

By surveillance and reconnaissance operations prior to the execution of the targeting, the verification degrees were achieved, as large numbers of armed elements and armed vehicles were observed at the memorial site, for effective contribution to military operations, based on customary rule (16) of the customary International Humanitarian Law.

The legal protection of the civilian objects were lost due to the presence of prominent Houthi leaders, and the presence of armed vehicle elements, and the gathering of members of Al-Houthi armed militia inside the memorial site, in accordance with Article (52), paragraph (3) of the First Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions.

At (7:23) am on Monday (25/11/2017), Coalition Forces conducted an aerial mission on Houthi commanders, armed vehicle crews, and members of Al-Houthi armed militia gathered inside the memorial site, in (Asr) area of the capital (Sana’a) using guided bombs that hit their targets, and achieved the desired military advantage.

By studying the planning phase of the air operation, the intelligence and operational procedures and mission video, JIAT found that Coalition Forces took possible precautions to avoid causing losses or accidental damages to civilian objects near the target site, by the use of reconnaissance operations and ground sources, to insure the absence of civilians within the bombs affective point of impact, and by the use of proportionate guided bombs, based on article (57) of First Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions and customary rules (15 and 17) of the customary International Humanitarian Law.

In light of that, JIAT found that the procedures taken by Coalition Forces in dealing with the legitimate military targets (inside the Egyptian Memorial site) were correct and in accordance with the International Humanitarian Law and its customary rules, and sees for humanitarian reasons that the Coalition States to provide assistance for the collateral damages that happened inside the Egyptian Memorial site.

Dubai Gazette