A confidential UN report says Saudi Arabia has deliberately bombed civilian targets in Yemen and killed children during an ongoing military campaign against its impoverished neighbor.
The report by a panel of UN experts cited a Saudi airstrike on a village house in southern Lahij Province on May 25 in which six civilians, including four children, were killed.
“It is almost certain that the civilian house was the deliberate target of the high explosive aircraft bombs,” said the report presented to the UN Security Council on Thursday.
The report stresses that Saudi Arabia and its allies have failed to take precautions and thus violated international humanitarian law while conducting aerial raids across Yemen.
The UN report also accused Yemen’s Houthi fighters and their allies of concealing their equipment near a civilian area in Ta’izz Province in one instance, saying such moves endanger the civilian population.
The new report comes as experts are still conducting detailed investigations into three more Saudi airstrikes against civilian targets across various parts of Yemen.
The Saudi regime has been defiant amid calls by the UN and prominent rights bodies to stop its violations against civilians in Yemen.
On Thursday, spokesman of a Saudi investigation task force Mansour bin Ahmed Mansour largely defended a series of deadly airstrikes on markets, clinics and a wedding in Yemen, citing the presence of armed force at the sites.
The official challenged rights groups and witnesses who say Saudi airstrikes in Yemen killed hundreds of civilians in the second half of 2015.
Yemenis stand around a crater caused by Saudi airstrikes in the capital, Sana’a, on October 1, 2015. ©AFP
Mansour said four military targets had been identified in one incident in Al Mukha in the southern Taiz province last year and successfully hit, barring one which had caused casualties.
In another case, Mansour said that an airstrike in December in Taiz, which aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres said wounded several people at one of its mobile clinics, had targeted a group of militiamen.
He also denied outright that a Saudi airstrike had hit a wedding procession in central Yemen last September, killing 131 people. Witnesses blamed the attack on Saudi warplanes.
The investigation is part of a UN compromise to the kingdom after scandalously removing Saudi Arabia from a blacklist of violators of children’s rights which sparked an international outcry.
In June, UN chief Ban Ki-moon admitted that he decided to temporarily take Saudi and some Arab monarchies off the blacklist for killing children in Yemen after coming under “undue pressure.”
The removal came less than a week after the Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC) report said the Saudi coalition was responsible for 60% of child casualties in Yemen last year, when it killed 510 children and injured 667 others.
Ban said then he had accepted “a proposal by Saudi Arabia that the United Nations and the Saudi-led coalition review jointly the cases and numbers” cited in the report.
Saudi Arabia has been pummeling Yemen on a daily basis since March 2015 in an attempt to restore former president Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi to power.
The new UN report also said the al-Qaeda franchise in Yemen has upgraded its bomb-making capabilities and could wage a “sustained IED (improvised explosive device) campaign” of attacks.
The Takfiri terrorist group used the refined bomb technique for the first time during an attack in Aden on May 1.
Al-Qaeda and Daesh terror groups have taken advantage of the Saudi military campaign against major power groups in Yemen, mainly Houthis who are a staunch enemy of Takfiri groups, to boost their presence there.
About 10,000 people have been killed since the Saudi aggression began. Yemenis say most of the victims are civilians.