Wrong intel ‘led to Sanaa strike’

Wrong intel ‘led to Sanaa strike’
Saudi fighter jets have taken part in the Arab coalition’s campaign against Yemen’s Houthi rebels.
Updated 16 October 2016

Wrong intel ‘led to Sanaa strike’

Wrong intel ‘led to Sanaa strike’

JEDDAH: The Saudi-led coalition fighting the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen wrongly attacked a funeral there after receiving incorrect information from Yemeni military figures that armed Houthi leaders were in the area, an investigative body set up by the Arab coalition said on Saturday.
The coalition, fighting to restore legitimacy in Yemen, said it accepted the result of the probe conducted by the Joint Investigation and Assessment Team into the Great Hall incident in Sanaa and began to implement JIAT’s recommendations.
Last Saturday's airstrike on the funeral gathering had resulted in tens of deaths and injuries.
“The coalition command expresses its regret at this unintentional incident and the ensuing pain for victims’ families. The incident is not in line with the coalition’s objectives, namely protecting civilians and restoring safety and stability to Yemen,” the coalition said in a statement.
Earlier, JIAT spokesperson Mansoor Al-Mansoor said the probe was initiated as soon as the Oct. 8 bombing of the ceremony hall occurred. The coalition forces command fully cooperated with the investigation.
“The JIAT examined all related documents and assessed evidence, including the rules of engagement, and the testimonies of all those involved in the incident, and concluded that a party affiliated with the Yemeni presidency, part of the chiefs-of-staff office, wrongly passed the information that armed Houthi leaders would be gathering at a known location in Sanaa, and insisted that the location be targeted immediately as a legitimate military objective,” said Al-Mansoor.
He added that the Air Operations Center in Yemen directed a close air support mission to target the location without obtaining approval from the coalition command, and without following the coalition command’s precautionary measures to ensure that the location was not civilian and should not be targeted.
A coalition aircraft in the area carried out the mission.
“The JIAT has found that because of non-compliance with coalition rules of engagement and procedures, and the issuing of incorrect information, a coalition aircraft wrongly targeted the location, resulting in civilian deaths and injuries,” said Al-Mansour
“The JIAT has therefore concluded that, in accordance with coalition regulations, appropriate action will be taken against those responsible for the incident, and that compensation will be offered to the families of the victims,” he said.
“Moreover, the coalition forces must immediately review their rules of engagement and update their procedures to ensure adherence in future,” he said, adding that the JIAT is still gathering and analyzing data related to the incident, namely reports about some sides that used this erroneous bombing to make their own victims, and will announce the results as soon as its investigation is complete.
Meanwhile, an Omani aircraft landed in Sanaa on Saturday to evacuate 115 of the most seriously wounded from the strike, said an official.
Oman has previously organized evacuations from Sanaa of Westerners and others who had been detained by the Houthis.
Separately, two US citizens "held" in Yemen have been freed and were taken to Oman on Saturday after mediation by authorities in the Gulf nation, the state-run Oman News Agency reported.
The agency, quoting an Omani Foreign Ministry spokesman, said the two Americans were brought to Oman aboard the aircraft that flew to Sanaa to evacuate the wounded.
— With input from agencies