Coalition ‘regrets’ Yemen bus strike, JIAT says those responsible should be accountable

JIAT said an airstrike by the Arab Coalition last month that killed dozens of people traveling on a bus lacked military justification and requires a review of the rules of engagement (Screengrab)
Updated 02 September 2018

Coalition ‘regrets’ Yemen bus strike, JIAT says those responsible should be accountable

  • Coalition statement describes bus strike as a ‘mistake’
  • JIAT says coalition should review rules of engagement to ensure compliance

RIYADH: An airstrike by the Arab Coalition to Restore the Legitimacy in Yemen last month that killed dozens of people traveling on a bus, lacked military justification and requires a review of the rules of engagement, a coalition body said on Saturday.
Mansour Ahmed Al-Mansour, legal adviser to the Joint Incidents Assessment Team (JIAT), said the strike had been based on intelligence indicating that the bus was carrying Houthi leaders, a legitimate military target, but delays in executing the strike and receiving a no-strike order should be investigated.

“There was a clear delay in preparing the fighter jet at the appropriate time and place, thus losing (the opportunity) to target this bus as a military target in an open area in order to avoid such collateral damage,” Al-Mansour told reporters in the Saudi capital.
“The team believes that the coalition forces should immediately review the application of their rules of engagement to ensure compliance...” he said.
The Joint Forces Command of the Arab Coalition on Saturday reviewed JIAT’s findings regarding the allegations surrounding the operation carried out by coalition forces in the Saada governorate.
The International Committee for the Red Cross said at least 29 children were killed and dozens more injured when the bus was hit in Dahyan area in Saada province on Aug 9 .
The conclusions of JIAT’s investigation indicated that the raid on Dahyan area did not comply with the coalition’s rules of engagement.
As a result the coalition’s Joint Forces Command expressed regret over the mistakes and extends its deepest sympathies, condolences and solidarity to the families of the victims, saying its accepts the JIAT’s results and findings.
Upon receiving the official findings, the Joint Forces Command will undertake legal proceedings to hold those responsible and accountable for committing mistakes, according to the rules and regulations related to such cases.
The coalition said it will “continue to revise and enhance its rules of engagement, based on the operational lessons learned, in a manner that guarantees the non-recurrence of such incidents.”
The Joint Forces Command said it will also task the Joint Committee to grant voluntary assistance to the families affected in Yemen, and communicate with the legitimate Yemeni government to acquire their names and identities so compensations can be provided under regulatory measures.
The Joint Forces Command reaffirmed its continued commitment to the International Humanitarian Law (IHL), its customary rules and relevant conventions. It pledged to continue “applying the rules of engagement in accordance with
the highest international standards and practices, which will guarantee respect of the law and the preservation of civilian lives and possessions.”
During the press conference, Al-Mansour said that “an order had been given not to target the bus, which was among civilians, but the order arrived late.”

Another error was that “the target did not pose an immediate threat and that targeting the bus in a residential area was unjustified at that time,” he said.
The JIAT’s investigation into the attack on the bus examined the flights on the day and video footage of the aircraft that carried out the raid, he added.

Mansour repeated on Saturday that information from intelligence services suggested the bus had been “transporting Houthi leaders.” 
But Mansour admitted the strike had “caused collateral damage.”

He also recommended that the coalition hold those responsible for the error accountable and compensate victims.
He said a coalition probe had found that errors were made before the strike, and called for those responsible to be “punished.”


Syria Kurds hand over four Daesh-linked children to Germany

Updated 27 min 32 sec ago

Syria Kurds hand over four Daesh-linked children to Germany

  • They included a boy and two sisters who had lost both parents, and a fatherless girl infant
  • A spokeswoman for the German foreign ministry confirmed the handover to staff from its consulate

SIMALKA CROSSING: The Kurdish authorities in northeast Syria on Monday handed over four children linked with the Daesh group to Germany, their first such repatriation to the European country, an official said.
“The autonomous region handed over four children from Daesh families to a delegation from Germany,” said Fanar Kaeet, a foreign affairs official with the Kurdish authorities.
They included a boy and two sisters who had lost both parents, and a fatherless girl infant who was repatriated for health reasons, Kurdish authorities said.
All are under 10 years old, they said.
A spokeswoman for the German foreign ministry confirmed the handover to staff from its consulate in neighboring Iraqi Kurdistan at the Simalka border crossing.
“I can confirm that four children who were in custody in northern Syria were able to leave Syria,” she said.
“The children were received on the Iraqi-Syrian border by staff of the consulate in Irbil and will be given to family members,” the spokeswoman said.
“From there, the children and their family members will, we believe, travel to Germany.”
Syria’s Kurds have spearheaded the US-backed fight against Daesh in Syria, and in March expelled the extremists from their last patch of territory in the war-torn country’s far east.
Even as they fight remaining sleeper cells, thousands of alleged Daesh fighters and family members are being held in their custody.
These include hundreds of suspected foreign fighters in their jails, and thousands of their alleged family members in overcrowded camps.
Western countries have been largely reluctant to repatriate their nationals.
But France and Belgium have brought a handful of orphans home, while the United States last year repatriated a woman with her four children.
Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kosovo have repatriated dozens of women and children.
Daesh overran large parts of Syria and Iraq in 2014, proclaiming a “caliphate” there, but offensives in both countries have seen them lose that territory.
A dozen children of alleged jihadist fighters have been repatriated from Iraq to Germany since March.