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JIAT Responds to Claims on Violations Taking Place During Decisive Storm Operations | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A member of the Saudi security forces stands guard as other demonstrate their skills during a military exercise in Arar, near Saudi Arabia’s northern border with Iraq March 18, 2015. REUTERS/Faisal AlNasser (SAUDI ARABIA – Tags: MILITARY POLITICS)

Responding to claims on the Saudi-led Arab Coalition Forces having committed humanitarian violations while mounting Decisive Storm and the Hope Restoration military operations, Joint Incidents Assessment Team (JIAT), an independent group, was established to assess the accuracy of posed claims on occurring accidents.

All military operations led by coalition forces aim to restore legitimacy to Yemen. JIAT consists of 14 competent members experienced in military and legal fields.

Probes led by the team against these claims came only after preparing an internal duty regulatory framework, which includes customary procedures for assessing accidents registered during such operations.

Depending on customary procedures for investigating facts and collecting evidence, proofs, documents and lists of targets the team carried out research.

The team also based its findings on international humanitarian law, international norms, rules of engagement, accident evaluation, and target mechanism.

The probe was carried out using independent and impartial mechanisms.

In a news briefing on Friday, JIAT’s Legal Advisor Lieutenant General Mansour Ahmed Al-Mansour from the Kingdom of Bahrain confirmed the JIAT’s work on assessing accidents depends on ensuring the legal aspects of target operations which prove compatible with international law, and on using the American and British mechanism for evaluating incidents, in addition to the law of armed conflict.

After preparing a report per case, which includes facts, circumstances surrounding each accident, background information, timings, and lessons learned- the team then issues recommendations.

Information contained in the task report, was procured after reviewing aerial footage from post-mission aircraft reports, visual recordings, and reporting to the JIAT’s air control officer.

JIAT’s Media Spokesman says that “JIAT started assessing a number of accidents claimed to be staged by coalition forces and reached a number of reports for some of the claims as follows:

1- Human Rights Watch claimed that the coalition forces bombed a residential complex in Mokha Directorate on 24/07/2015.

After reviewing facts, the JIAT found that intelligence information was available stating the presence of four targets in the areas controlled by armed Houthi militiamen and the forces ousted Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh. Targets included coastal defense missiles that pose an immediate threat to coalition naval vessels present near the coast and to the safety of Red Sea maritime navigation.

The JIAT found that the objective was a residential complex partly affected by unintentional shelling, based on inaccurate intelligence information. Therefore, the JIAT recommended providing compensation to the families of the victims after they submit their official and documented claims to the Reparations Committee.

2- Medecins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) claimed that the Haydan Hospital in Saada governorate was targeted by aerial bombardment on 26/01/2015.

Accordingly, the JIAT found that the targeting was based on solid intelligence information received by the coalition forces about the presence of military target (gathering of Houthi armed militia) in Haydan Directorate.

After verification, it was made clear that the building was a medical facility used by Houthi armed gunmen as a military shelter, which violates rules of international humanitarian law.

No human damage was accounted for. Coalition forces had bombed the medical facility after defining it as a military target; notifying the MSF on withdrawing was imperative the international protection from this building before carrying out the bombing.

3- Medecins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) claimed that a mobile clinic in Taiz province exposed to side effects of bombing by the coalition forces on 02/12/2015.

Findings suggest that Houthi -affiliated militia were targeted in Taiz province. The offensive is a high-value military target and realizes military advantage as a legitimate target.

The operation was launched based on a request issued by Yemeni forces loyal to the legitimate government as well as the popular resistance located in Hoban, Taiz Province.

The mobile clinic was not directly bombed, but was accidentally affected by the bombing due to its proximity the targeted. No Human casualties were registered.

Recommendations suggest keeping mobile clinics away from military targets to avoid being subjected to any incidental effects.

Therefore, measures taken by the Coalition Forces are deemed in accordance with the international laws.

4- The Secretary-General of the United Nations claimed killing of as many as 32 and injury of another 41 civilians, in a traditional market, at the district of Nahm, in the governorate of Sana’a on 27/2/2016.

Investigations arrived to the fact that the Coalition aircraft, which was embarking on a critical air back-up operation near to the Popular Resistance and the army loyal to the legitimate government, was tracking two cargos loaded with personnel, ammunition and weapons belonging to Houthi-affiliated militias.

The militia massing, to where the cargo was heading, is located near a small local market adjacent to a small buildings and tents, on a road linking Nahm district to the capital Sanaa.

The military targets were swiftly dealt with. Targets were considered a valuable and highly effective and legitimate which secure military advantage.

The offensive was carried out by dropping an accurate laser-guided bomb. The crowd was then disbanded to a desolate desert area, which falls under militia control.

JIAT concluded that no fault was accounted for by coalition forces. No case of targeting civilians could be made according to international humanitarian law, No direct attacks on civilians were registered.

5- The UN News Center claimed that the coalition forces have bombed the market of (KhamisMastaba), in the District of Hajjah on 15.3.2016 and the allegation of causing the death of some 106 civilians.

The location was targeted clearly and based on solid intelligence asserting that a large gathering of Houthi armed militia (recruits). The militia massing was near a weekly market, which is only active on Thursdays.

Operations were placed on a Tuesday, as it was rendered a legitimate and high-value military target. The offensive is considered a military advantage, being just 34 km from the border with Saudi Arabia, as it eliminated threats against troops stationed on the border.

Prosecution did not provide proof of the claims on civilian casualties. JIAT found no proof of any liabilities on the coalition forces’ behalf. Coalition forces were found to have abided by rules of international humanitarian law.

6- Stated claims by the Special Prosecutor on extrajudicial cases or summary executions and arbitrary executions, with respect to an air strike which allegedly resulted in the death of 47 civilians and the injuring of at least 58, during a wedding on 6/10 / 2015, in the province of Dhama.

Referring to records relative to air sorties conclude that there were no bombing of any target in the province of Damar, related to date on which the claim was based on. JIAT’s report, based on the importance of ensuring the prosecution, held a discussion on air operations targeted the same area on dates close by: it was depicted that an air strike carried on 07/10/2015 on the road of Dhamar – Radaa – al-baidah), where a gathering of armed vehicles were present on the same road, it appeared that there was no targeting of civilians, in the same area.

7- President of the World Food Programme claimed that four trucks belonging to the World Food Programme carrying food were exposed to bombing on 9/11/2015 at 10:00 pm in Hreib Directorate at Marib Governorate.

This bombing has resulted in injuring 4 drivers and total destruction of two trucks and partial destruction of the other two trucks.

Reviewing the facts, JIAT found that the trucks were targeted based on intelligence information indicating affiliation to Houthi armed militia and the forces of former President and were assumed carrying missiles to target the positions of coalition forces’ and resistance loyal to the legitimate government in Marib Province. The information was decoded and concluded that it poses an immediate threat.

Marib is a key supply region for Houthi armed militia. In light of reviewed facts and evidence, JIAT found that these trucks are a convoy of WFP and that the coalition forces were not aware of the timings and locations of the WFP convoy.

Officials supervising this program did not provide the coalition forces with details on dates and timings of the convoys (trucks) mobilizing, which is a breach of the international conventions.

The JIAT also found that the trucks did not use international protection signs.

The targeting was because of the lack of direct coordination between organization and the relevant authorities at the coalition forces command.

8- MSF claimed that the surroundings of Republican Hospital in Saada, on 23/1/2016, were exposed to repercussions and flying shards as a result of air strikes.

Following revision, the JIAT found that the command of the coalition forces had targeted the same area, after confirming the presence of a number of warehouses containing weapons and ammunitions belonging to armed Houthi militias. The offensive was carried out using laser-guided bombs, considered surgical weapons with precision, and that there was no direct targeting of the named hospital or civilians located in proximity to the warehouse.

Bolstering the defense, retrieved aerial footage covering operation grounds, does not show neither buildings nor civilians present.

The Coalition Forces were aware of the presence of the Republican Hospital in that region and recognize it to be a prohibited target, because it is a medical facility protected under international conventions.

It is required to avoid targeting such places when coordinating military operations. In conclusion, there was no inaccuracy registered on behalf of coalition forces regarding this operation. The operation is in line with

rules of international and humanitarian law which include the protection of medical facilities.

JIAT’s Legal Advisor concluded the briefing with a statement stressing JIAT’s commitment to carry out assigned tasks, impartiality, and to publically distribute findings reached upon completion of verification procedures.