Editorial: Investigation aside, bombing an Iraqi shrine is a reminder of the brutality of war

This file photo shows the Pentagon in Washington. (AP)
Updated 22 October 2016
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Editorial: Investigation aside, bombing an Iraqi shrine is a reminder of the brutality of war

Just like misinformation led to a Saudi-led coalition plane targeting a funeral hall — and ultimately killing Yemeni civilians — earlier this month; yesterday’s airstrike on a Shiite shrine near the Iraqi city of Kirkuk — which has killed 15 women according to AFP — was another tragic reminder of wars, the mistakes that occur in them and how innocent civilians always end up paying the price.
Of course, state-owned Iranian media immediately accused the United States of conducting the strike on the shrine (seemingly without bothering to seek a confirmation from the Pentagon). For its part, Arab News reached out to the US Department of Defense and a spokesperson advised that the matter is still being investigated, adding that they are in the process of finding out whether or not there were any missions by the US-led coalition against Daesh actually flying at the time and place of the above-mentioned strike.
Yet, any well-informed expert on regional affairs will tell you that — apart from the US coalition — there aren’t exactly many options when it comes to the ability of conducting airstrikes in Iraq.
At the same time, one must remember that the US — like Saudi Arabia — subscribes to and respects international treaties. Furthermore, and contrary to Iranian propaganda, it certainly has no interest or intention in targeting mosques, residential areas or funerals.
Now, regardless of the outcome of the Pentagon’s internal investigation, the fact remains that 15 innocent women died in Iraq yesterday. This is truly sad, as any innocent life lost — be it Sunni, Shiite, Christian, Jewish or of any other religion — is a life too many!
It goes without saying that any/all warring nations must continue to do their utmost to avoid civilian causalities; countries that develop weapon systems must continue to enhance their precision technology, or enhance their intelligence gathering to avoid atrocities such as what happened in Kirkuk yesterday.
But most importantly, with only days separating us from the upcoming American elections, all one could hope for is that the next US president gets better advice on the complexities of the Middle East. And that he/she understands that the war — whether physical or ideological — on the likes of Daesh and the equally horrific Iranian-funded militias can’t be won through a remote control, but through close engagement and via a better partnership with long-term and reliable US allies, such as its Arab Gulf allies.


Joint Incidents Assessment Team 'abides by transparency' in Yemen

Updated 25 September 2018
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Joint Incidents Assessment Team 'abides by transparency' in Yemen

  • JIAT spokesman said the team is transparent in the way it announces its results for incidents in Yemen

RIYADH: The spokesman of the Joint Incidents Assessment Team (JIAT) in Yemen, legal consultant Mansour Bin Ahmed Al-Mansour, has stressed that the team abides by transparency in announcing the results of engagement in Yemen.

Al-Mansour was speaking on Tuesday at a press conference at King Salman Air Base in Riyadh assessing  incidents. 

The cases included an incident in Malh Town where Human Rights on Yemen stated that on Feb. 18, 2016, during the intensity of combat, a family tried to leave and Coalition Forces targeted the vehicle, causing the death of nine family members and their relatives, injuring three.

JIAT investigations revealed that the target was located 1,600 meters from the coordinate given by the National Commission, and after reviewing the daily mission schedule, JIAT found that there was no air mission on the village of Malh. 

It was also claimed that the Coalition Air Forces on Nov. 10, 2017 targeted the ministry of defense and the fall of a missile on Alsa’adi neighborhood next to the ministry injured 23 civilians. JIAT found that there was a gathering of high-level Houthi leaders inside the building so considered it a legitimate military target. 

On Feb 2, 2018 an airstrike on a target 500 meters away from the warehouse of the UNHCR in Sa’dah city caused damage to the warehouse and injured the guard. JIAT found that the Coalition Air Forces targeted a legitimate military target (a leader from the Houthi armed militia). 

Coalition Forces on March 31, 2015 targeted the national cement factory in Lahj, causing the death of at least 10 people and injuring at least 13 others. JIAT found that the target was 360 meters away from generators and the production line, and was not aimed at the operational infrastructure. JIAT found that the procedures of the coalition in targeting the weapons, ammunition warehouse and AAA inside the factory were in accordance with international humanitarian law.

Al-Mansour announced the findings of investigations into the Radfan water factory north of Lahj governorate. JIAT found that intelligence stated that it was used for weapons storage and as a meeting place for hostile elements and was considered a legitimate military target.

JIAT looked at a High Commissioner for Human Rights report that stated that on Aug. 7, 2016, Coalition Forces carried out two airstrikes on a residential and commercial building in Sana’a, causing the death of 16 civilians including seven children and a woman, and injuring 24 others. JIAT found that Coalition Forces did not target the buildings and confirmed that the procedures of the coalition in targeting the truck were in accordance with international humanitarian law. 

Human Rights Watch stated that on Feb. 14, 2016, Coalition Air Forces targeted the Middle East Tailoring and Embroidery Factory in Sana’a city, causing the death of one laborer and injuring three others. 

JIAT found that on Feb. 13, 2016, intelligence received by the Coalition Forces indicated there were meetings of Houthi armed leaders in a hanger in Sana’a that had been used as an embroidery factory before being controlled by the militia.

Regarding reports by international organizations about a civilian boat being attacked by a military ship on March 16, 2017, the boat arrived about 30 nautical miles from Alhudaydah port and was intercepted by a military ship that claimed to belong to the Coalition Forces and opened fire. Passengers signaled that they were civilians but the ship opened fire with a submachine gun, and a helicopter took off from the attacking ship and opened fire, causing the death of 33 people, injuring 29. 

JIAT found Coalition Forces did not target the refugee boat for several reasons, including that the shooting on the boat was horizontal, making it impossible for it to come from a helicopter, and the size of the weapon used showed the marks of small-caliber fire, not medium or large caliber.