Claims of illegal coalition airstrikes in Yemen denied

The Joint Incident Assessment Team is currently investigating 70 cases. SPA
Updated 16 July 2018

Claims of illegal coalition airstrikes in Yemen denied

  • JIAT found that the coalition air forces did not attack the mosque, and that there were no signs of damages on July 14, 2015
  • The Joint Incident Assessment Team found that the coalition forces executed a mission on three legitimate military targets in Aden

RIYADH: Accusations that the coalition conducted illegal airstrikes on five sites were denied at a press conference by the Joint incident Assessment TEAM (JIAT) on Sunday.

JIAT spokesman Mansour Al-Mansour said: “The number of assessments that the team is currently undertaking is 70 cases and we have completed five assessments.”

The team refuted the allegations made against the Arab coalition in Yemen, producing evidence and a team of experts, including legal consultants accredited by international organizations and military professionals.

The first case concerned a Human Rights Watch report on June 11, 2016, which claimed that the coalition dropped a bomb in the neighborhood of Hasbah in Sanaa targeting the Chamber of Commerce. It injured a security guard and destroyed the eastern wing of a three-story building.

“The team received intelligence from coalition forces regarding the Houthi militias’ use of the building as military barracks.

“Therefore, the coalition forces at the time bombed the building in Sanaa, which fell from the legal protection prescribed by international conventions, as it was a legitimate target that held Houthi militia. As a legitimate military target, attacking it achieves a military advantage,” said Al-Mansour.

The second case concerned a report from the International Committee of the Red Cross on Aug. 6, 2015, which said that the coalition carried out an airstrike on Bab Aden Water Reservoir on July 8, 2015.

JIAT found that the coalition forces executed a mission on three legitimate military targets in Aden. The closest target to Bab Aden Water Reservoir was approximately 5,500 meters. Al-Mansour said: “JIAT found that the coalition air forces did not target Bab Aden Water Reservoir.”    

The third case concerned the annual report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights issued on Aug. 4, 2016, which stated that the coalition carried out an attack on Al-Hosaini Mosque on July 14, 2015, in Aden.

“According to locals, the mosque was used for military purposes by the Houthi militia.”

However, JIAT found that the coalition air forces did not attack the mosque, and that there were no signs of damages on July 14, 2015. The target was a building where Houthi militants gathered in Aden, 4km away from the claimed location.

The fourth case concerned a claim that there were three airstrikes on Al-Qat market, killing 25 people and injuring 16 others.

Al-Mansour said: “JIAT found that on Sept. 19, 2015, the coalition executed two air missions on two legitimate military targets, which achieved a military advantage, in Sadah Governorate, the closest location was a cave used by Houthi Militia as weapons storage, located 100km away from Al-Qat market.

“The JIAT found that the coalition air forces did not attack the market, and confirmed the procedures of the coalition in attacking the legitimate military target, which was 100km away from Al-Qat market.”

The fifth case concerned news broadcast in the Yemeni media that the coalition forces executed an airstrike on a health center for cholera patients at 4:30 p.m. on June 3, 2017, which was crowded with cholera patients and their companions in Qahza district, Sadah city. The airstrike caused dozens of injuries, destroyed the building and the center’s medical facilities, putting it out of service.

“JIAT found that on June 3, 2017, the coalition air forces executed three air missions on military targets used by Houthi militia as missile storages in Sadah, that represented a legitimate military target, located 3km away from the claimed location, and were direct hits,” Al-Mansour said.  

Pictures were shown at the press conference to refute claims that the collation was unlawfully bombing and not adhering to the international humanitarian law.

Al-Mansour concluded by saying: “Based on the above, the team has concluded that the three military actions were correct and consistent with international humanitarian law.”

Saudi rural tourism recovers after months of forced isolation

Updated 11 July 2020

Saudi rural tourism recovers after months of forced isolation

  • Saudis turn to domestic traveling and flock to their nation’s cooler cities and rural areas

TAIF: As Saudi citizens turn to domestic tourism in the country’s summer resorts, adapting to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, rural areas have become targeted by local tourists wishing to get away from the soaring temperatures in most of the Kingdom’s cities.

Visitors are now choosing cold Saudi cities instead of Europe, which they are accustomed to visiting, such as Taif, Al-Baha, and Abha.

COVID-19 has postponed all plans to travel abroad, and attention has now focused on domestic tourism amid strict health protocols in parks, gardens and recreational areas.

Walid Al-Hamidi, vice president of the Tourism Development Council, confirmed to Arab News that Asir, with its facilities and attractions, was ready to receive summer visitors from across the country.

He said that under the directives of Asir's governor, who supervises all activities and events directly and constantly, many committees had been formed to prepare a successful summer tourism season, to optimize the opportunity and allow people to enjoy the exceptional ambiance of Asir.

“A comprehensive tourism plan was set up two years ago, which resulted in a successful Al-Soudah Season with the support of Asir’s Investment Authority,” Al-Hamidi added.

He noted that Asir’s directives aimed this year to build an exceptional tourism model that meets optimal health standards in dealing with COVID-19.

The model is supported by the “Nashama Asir” team — consisting of 4,000 volunteers — who have been trained for months and have all the necessary skills to make the season successful. Their work will continue until the end of the pandemic and throughout the summer.

“Everyone is ready at public facilities, gardens and parks, to serve tourists,” he said, adding “tourists coming from all the over the Kingdom will be welcomed with smiles, enhanced services, and warm welcomes.”

Dr. Sami Al-Obaidi, chairman of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Taif, told Arab News that the tourism sector was the economic backbone of any country or city.

He said that Taif was considered one of the most important tourist cities, given its many attractions  that made it top of any list of places to visit in the Kingdom.

“Suspending travel abroad, and limiting tourism … due to the coronavirus pandemic, makes us, as officials and citizens in Taif, well placed for a beautiful and safe tourism season for Taif’s citizens and visitors,” said Al-Obaidi.

“Meetings are held around the clock, headed by Saad Al-Maimouni, the governor of Taif, with the participation of the relevant authorities.”

He expected all sectors, especially tourism, hospitality and a few other businesses in Taif, to recover to some extent during this season, especially now tourists have already started flocking to the region, with numbers set to increase over the coming weeks.