An airstrike by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition in Yemen killed at least a dozen people, including several children, on Monday, according to medical officials.
The strike took place near Yemen’s Red Sea port of Hodeida, where thousands of internally displaced civilians have been resettled, reports the Associated Press. An air-to-ground missile hit a housing compound in the town of al-Hami, killing at least eight women and five girls, according to Walid al-Emmad, Yemen’s deputy health minister.
Witnesses and medical personnel at the scene said 12 of the victims were from the same family. Al-Hami put the total number killed at 14, though Yemeni authorities have not published an official death toll.
“We take this report very seriously and it will be fully investigated as all reports of this nature are — using an internationally approved, independent process,” a spokesperson for the coalition told Reuters. “Whilst this is ongoing, it would be inappropriate to comment further.”
A Saudi-led coalition of Gulf Arab states has been conducting a bombing campaign against Yemen since 2014, when Shiite Houthi rebels overthrew the country’s Saudi-friendly government. Since then, the alliance, which is supported by the U.S. military, has conducted thousands of air strikes targeting Houthi fighters. It has also implemented a blockade of Yemeni ports including Hodeida, leading to widespread shortages of food, fuel and medical supplies for Yemen’s civilian population.
After more than three years of bombing, the war has turned into one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises: More than 10,000 people have been killed and millions more are at risk of famine and disease.
Humanitarian groups accuse the Saudi-led coalition of indiscriminate bombing of non-military targets and critical infrastructure. The coalition says it does not deliberately target civilians and blames Houthi rebels for putting civilians in harm’s way.
U.S. assistance to the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen includes refueling for the fighter jets carrying out airstrikes, plus intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support. The Pentagon has defended refueling of coalition jets, saying it actually limits civilian casualties by giving pilots more time carefully choose their targets.
U.S. refueling support means “there’s no need for a rash or hasty decision there,” Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Tuesday.
Some observes of the conflict dispute Mattis’ assertion. The Yemen Data Project, an independent group that collects information about Saudi airstrikes, says more than a third of coalition strikes have targeted non-military sites.
Today marks 3 years of the Saudi-led bombing campaign in #Yemen. @YemenData recorded 16,749 air raids – an average of 15 per day – in the three years. Nearly one third of all air raids (31%) targeted non-military sites. Read our full 3-year data summary https://t.co/2KTsS9bnNs] pic.twitter.com/SdvHFSfVdk
— Yemen Data Project (@YemenData) March 26, 2018
A growing chorus of lawmakers is calling on President Donald Trump to withdraw support for the Saudi coalition until Congress authorizes U.S. involvement in the conflict. A bipartisan War Powers resolution aimed at cutting military assistance failed in the Senate last month, however, and Trump continues to express support for Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, a close U.S. ally.
Like former President Barack Obama, Trump insists U.S. military assistance to the coalition doesn’t rise to the level of engaging in hostilities and therefore does not require Congressional authorization.
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