Coalition denies role in Yemen wedding bombing that killed 131

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Updated 30 September 2015
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Coalition denies role in Yemen wedding bombing that killed 131

SANAA: The Saudi-led anti-rebel coalition denied on Tuesday that its warplanes were behind the bombing of a wedding in southwestern Yemen as the toll soared to 131, including women and children.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned Monday’s air raid, saying intentional attacks on civilians were considered a “serious violation of international humanitarian law.”
Residents said the Arab coalition, which launched an air war on the Houthi Shiite rebels in late March, was behind the attack on the wedding in Wahijah village near the Red Sea city of Mokha.
But the spokesman for the Riyadh-based coalition, Brig. Gen. Ahmed Al-Assiri, denied any involvement.
“The coalition did not conduct any air strikes in the area over the past three days,” he said. “This is completely false.”
The coalition called for an independent investigation into the incident.
“We can prove by satellite that we did not fly over that zone,” a coalition source said.
The death toll rose to 131 on Tuesday after “more bodies were taken overnight to hospital and many of the wounded succumbed to their injuries,” a local health official told AFP, requesting anonymity.
Previously the toll had been at least 40 dead and dozens wounded.
A doctor at Mokha’s Al-Reefi Hospital, Mayaz Al-Hamadi, confirmed that 131 bodies, including women and children, had been brought in.
“Many bodies are laid on the floor because the hospital does not have the means” to accommodate the large number of fatalities, he said.
The United Nations said it was trying to verify the death toll.

Deadliest incident
“If the numbers are as high as suggested, this may be the single deadliest incident since the start of the conflict,” Rupert Colville, spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, told reporters in Geneva.
Colville said that more civilians were being killed in the fighting in Yemen amid “an increasing number of air strikes targeting bridges and highways.”
According to new UN figures, 151 civilians were killed, including 26 children and 10 women, in the conflict between September 11 and 24.
A total of 2,355 civilians have been killed in the war since late March, and 4,862 have been wounded, Colville said.
Ban urged all rival sides in Yemen “to immediately cease all military activities and resolve all differences through peaceful negotiations.”
President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi returned from nearly six months of exile in Saudi Arabia to Yemen’s southern port city of Aden last Wednesday.
On Sunday, as he left for the UN General Assembly, Hadi urged the rebels to lay down their arms and resume dialogue to end the conflict.
Human rights watchdogs have repeatedly criticized the coalition’s aerial bombardment of Yemen, saying they have struck areas without any military targets.
They have also accused the rebels of war crimes for what they have called “indiscriminate” shelling of civilian-populated areas.


US bolsters Middle East force with 1,500 troops as Pentagon blames Iran for tanker attacks

Updated 24 May 2019
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US bolsters Middle East force with 1,500 troops as Pentagon blames Iran for tanker attacks

  • Donald Trump says the additional troops would serve a 'mostly protective' role
  • The US began reinforcing its presence in the Arabian Gulf region earlier this month

WASHINGTON: The US will strengthen its force in the Middle East with 1,500 extra troops, Donald Trump said Friday as the Pentagon blamed Iran for an attack on oil tankers off the coast of the UAE.

"We want to have protection in the Middle East," Trump said as he left the White House for a trip to Japan. "We're going to be sending a relatively small number of troops, mostly protective.
"Some very talented people are going to the Middle East right now. And we'll see what happens."

Shortly after his comments, the Pentagon accused Iran's Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) of being directly responsible for attacks on tankers off the UAE earlier this month, describing it as part of a "campaign" by Tehran driving new US deployments.
"The attack against the shipping in Fujairah we attribute it to the IRGC," said Rear Admiral Michael Gilday, the director of the Joint Staff, adding the Pentagon attributed limpet mines used in the attack to the IRGC. He declined to describe "the means of delivery" of the mines.

The 1,500 extra troops will be made up of a deployment of 900 more forces, including engineers, and the extension of a tour by some 600 personnel manning Patriot missiles.

Officials said earlier that members of Congress were notified following a White House meeting Thursday to discuss Pentagon proposals to bolster the force in the region.
Earlier this week, officials said that Pentagon planners had outlined plans that could have sent up to 10,000 military reinforcements to the region. Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan later said planners had not settled on a figure.
The US began reinforcing its presence in the Arabian Gulf region this month in response to what it said was a threat from Iran.

*With AP and Reuters