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
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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.”


Extremists kill 9 Syria regime fighters near Idlib: monitor

Updated 13 min 38 sec ago
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Extremists kill 9 Syria regime fighters near Idlib: monitor

  • Syria’s war has killed more than 360,000 people since it erupted in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests
  • Extremist groups attacked government forces in the northwest of Hama province near a planned buffer zone

BEIRUT: Extremists on Friday killed nine Syrian regime fighters near a planned buffer zone around the country’s last major rebel bastion, a monitor said.
A September deal between government ally Russia and opposition backer Turkey aimed to set up a de-militarised zone around the northwestern region of Idlib to protect it from a regime assault.
But its implementation has been stalled since extremists who hold around 70 percent of the planned buffer area failed to withdraw by mid-October, and sporadic clashes have rocked the area since.
Early Friday, extremist groups attacked government forces in the northwest of Hama province near the planned buffer zone, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
“Nine regime fighters and five assailants were killed” in the attack, causing government forces to respond with artillery fire, Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said.
The attackers included the Al-Qaeda-linked Hurras Al-Deen group, which has publicly rejected the Russian-Turkish deal, he said.
The lion’s share of Idlib is held by Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham, an alliance led by Al-Qaeda’s former Syrian affiliate.
Under the September 17 deal, all fighters in the zone were supposed to withdraw their heavy weapons and militants including HTS and Hurras Al-Deen were supposed to leave.
On Thursday, Russian spokeswoman Maria Zakharova criticized “sporadic clashes,” as well as “provocations” by HTS in northwestern Syria.
Late last month, Syria’s Foreign Minister Walid Muallem expressed dissatisfaction with the implementation of the Idlib deal, and criticized Turkey for shortcomings.
He said heavy weapons had not been withdrawn and accused Turkey of not wanting to “respect its obligations.”
Syria’s war has killed more than 360,000 people since it erupted in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests.