A Saudi-led air raid in Yemen last week that left at least 65 civilians dead in a residential compound may have amounted to war crimes, Human Rights Watch warned Tuesday. The New York-based rights group called on the United Nations Human Rights Council to set up a commission to investigate the recent attack, as well as others that have resulted in civilian deaths.
At least 10 children were among the dead from the July 24 strike in the port city of Mokha. Coalition war planes reportedly struck two compounds housing at least 200 families as they continued their campaign against Houthi rebels in the country, the Human Rights Watch report said.
“The Saudi-led coalition repeatedly bombed company housing, with fatal results for several dozen civilians,” said Ole Solvang, senior emergencies researcher for Human Rights Watch. “With no evident military target, this attack appears to be a war crime.”
The group accused the Saudi-led coalition of consistently failing to investigate allegations of war crimes as it continued to strike Houthi and other opposition targets across the war-ravaged country. Human Rights Watch cited a case in March where warplanes dropped multiple aerial bombs on a dairy factory, resulting in the deaths of at least 31 civilians.
"The failure of Saudi Arabia and other coalition members to investigate apparently unlawful airstrikes in Yemen demonstrates the need for the United Nations Human Rights Council to create a commission of inquiry," it said.
Saudi Arabia has sought to reinstate the Yemeni government since it was ousted by Houthi rebels four months ago. Though the exiled government has taken back a number of key areas with the help of the Saudis in recent months, rebels remained in control of much of the country.
— Philippe Bolopion (@Bolopion) July 28, 2015
The monitoring group also accused Houthi and other rebel forces of war violations, and said pro-Houthi factions repeatedly engaged in military operations that put the lives of civilians and civilian structures at risk. In the past, Human Rights Watch has accused pro-Houthi rebels of killing civilians and holding aid workers hostage in the southern Yemen city of Aden.
The United Nations said fighting in Yemen has killed more than 3,640 people since late March, estimating that around half of that number were civilians, Hurriyet Daily News said. On Monday, the coalition imposed a five-day freeze on its bombing campaign to allow for the delivery of relief supplies, but the International Committee of the Red Cross said that five days was not enough time to deliver much-needed aid.