Riyadh – An independent assessment team, which was formed in January to look into reports of Saudi-led coalition’s war violations during its “Decisive Storm” in Yemen, announced on Thursday the results of its probe into eight separate cases during a news conference held in the Saudi capital.
The Joint Incidents Assessment Team (JIAT) is formed of 14 members from coalition states, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and Yemen.
The outcome of investigations showed that the coalition abided by the military rules of engagement in six out of eight claims of attacks on a residential area, hospitals, markets, a wedding and World Food Program (WFP) aid trucks.
JIAT’s Legal Advisor, Lieutenant General Mansour Ahmed Al-Mansour from the Kingdom of Bahrain, said in a press conference held at King Salman Air Base in Riyadh that the JIAT’s work in assessing the accidents “depends on ensuring the legal aspects of target operations that are compatible with the international law, and on using the American and British mechanism to assess accidents in addition to the law of armed conflict.”
The team cleared the coalition of unlawful activity in six cases, including raids last year on a delivery by WFP trucks that had not coordinated with the coalition.
Regarding claims that the coalition forces bombed a residential complex in Mokha directorate in July 2015, the team said that the attack was launched based on intelligence information stating the presence of four military targets in the areas controlled by the Houthis. The team added that a residential complex was partly affected by “unintentional bombing” based on inaccurate intelligence information.
The JIAT, therefore, recommended providing compensation to the families of victims.
As for a claim submitted by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) regarding air strikes on the organization’s Haydan Hospital in the area of Saada, Mansour said that the team found that the rebels were using the hospital as a hideout, which is “a breach of international humanitarian law.”
The MSF also claimed that a mobile clinic in Taiz province was affected by nearby bombings. The JIAT found that armed groupings belonging to Houthi militias were targeted in the bombing, which is considered to be a “high-value military target that achieves military advantage as a legitimate target”.
The team stressed the necessity to keep mobile clinics away from military targets so as not to be subjected to any incidental effects.
Regarding a claim by the WFP president that four trucks affiliated to the organization carrying food supplies were exposed to bombing in November 2015, the team found that the trucks were not marked to show that they belonged to an international aid organization. It added that the bombing was the result of lack of direct coordination between the WFP and the relevant authorities at the coalition forces command.
The team also found that the Saudi-led coalition has committed to the rules of international and humanitarian law in four other cases, including a purported attack on a residential area and another alleged bombing of a wedding ceremony.
Mansour stressed at the end of the news conference that the JIAT would continue to carry out its tasks independently and would publicly announce the results reached upon the completion of the verification procedures.