A recent study of Saudi-led coalition airstrikes in Yemen puts the lie to Riyadh’s claim that it seeks to avoid civilian casualties:
More than one-third of all Saudi-led air raids on Yemen have hit civilian sites, such as school buildings, hospitals, markets, mosques and economic infrastructure, according to the most comprehensive survey of the conflict.
The findings, revealed by the Guardian on Friday, contrast with claims by the Saudi government, backed by its US and British allies, that Riyadh is seeking to minimise civilian casualties.
This finding isn’t surprising at all when we remember how many civilian targets have been hit over the last seventeen and a half months. The report suggests that the coalition is either so incompetent in its targeting or so grossly negligent in the targets it chooses as to make it culpable for war crimes. Of course, the Saudis gave the game away over a year ago when they illegally declared all of Saada to be a military target. That declaration telegraphed their intention to bomb whatever they liked in that part of Yemen, and it is no accident that some of the most indiscriminate and destructive bombing has taken place there. The report’s findings also undermine the lame justification that U.S. and British involvement helps make the Saudis and their allies more precise and accurate in their bombing. If the coalition hitting civilian targets more than a third of the time, that defense doesn’t hold up in the least. The U.S. and Britain are enabling the Saudi-led coalition’s war crimes in Yemen, and this report is just the latest evidence to support that conclusion.
It is possible that even more of the strikes in Yemen were on civilian targets, because the study wasn’t able to determine whether over 1,800 of the targets were either military or civilian:
The independent and non-partisan survey, based on open-source data, including research on the ground, records more than 8,600 air attacks between March 2015, when the Saudi-led campaign began, and the end of August this year. Of these, 3,577 were listed as having hit military sites and 3,158 struck non-military sites.
Where it could not be established whether a location attacked was civilian or military, the strikes were classified as unknown, of which there are 1,882 incidents.
Regardless, 36% of the attacks were on non-military targets. The coalition has illegally bombed Yemeni civilians over three thousand times, and the U.S. and Britain have aided them in this by providing weapons and refueling.