The 22 fatalities included 12 of the dancers, four musicians and six villagers, including one who played the lute. Most of the children killed were in the dance troupe.
The dancers all belonged to the Muhamasheen, Yemen’s most marginalized ethnic group. Performing at weddings was among the few jobs they could find.
For 10 of them, only pieces of their bodies were found, so they are buried in two mass graves. “It’s all my family,” said Ahmed Rifaei, 37, a dancer who survived.
The living, too, are in bad shape.
Some of Raqah’s residents have lost their hearing. Children have lost limbs, while others carry shrapnel from the missile inside their bodies. The nearest hospital is in the provincial capital, and most villagers cannot afford the three-hour journey.
The attack on this wedding party is just one of the thousands of strikes that have hit civilian targets over the last three years. There is no possible justification for what the Saudi coalition did to this village. It was a wanton slaughter of innocent people that showed the coalition’s complete disregard for civilian lives. There have been many similar attacks on other weddings, funerals, schools, markets, and homes, and they have all been similarly outrageous and indefensible. The Saudis and their allies have been able to carry out all these attacks with impunity because none of their Western patrons will ever hold them accountable for what they have done.
Providing the coalition with weapons and refueling gives their forces the means to carry out more of these massacres. The U.S. continues to provide weapons and refueling despite the coalition’s many documented war crimes, and our officials then have the gall to claim that U.S. support for the war is reducing the number of civilian casualties. There are simply too many examples of deliberate attacks on civilians like this one that prove that claim wrong. As long as U.S. support for the war on Yemen continues, there will be more of these senseless killings of innocent civilians, and the U.S. will be complicit in causing their deaths.
The Yemenis on the receiving end of these attacks know very well that the U.S. is responsible for enabling the war being waged against them:
Many are also filled with anger, not just at the Saudi-led coalition, but at the United States. “If it wasn’t for the American aircraft, Saudi Arabia would never strike Yemen,” said Mohammed Yahya, the groom’s uncle. “America gives them weapons, and the Saudis hit us.”
The official position that the U.S. is not a party to a war that our government helps make possible is an absurd lie, and the people that have survived U.S.-backed coalition attacks can see right through it. The U.S. should have never been involved in this war, and it is imperative that Congress halt our involvement in this despicable war at once.