JIAT Reviews Some Reports on Allegations against Coalition Forces to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen 3 Riyadh

With regard to the report of the Human Rights Watch dated 21/12/ 2015 stating that the Coalition forces launched 4 aerial attack on Al-Hasba neighbourhood, northern (Sanaa) at 04:30 am on 21/09/2015 that destroyed 4 houses, one of which was occupied by Houthi militia for one year. The air attacks damaged at least 11 houses.

The four attacks killed 20 civilians 18 of which were from one family including 6 women and 11 children. The report added: the Houthis endangered civilians' lives as they deployed their forces at high -density residential area. HRW inspected the sites late October 2015 and saw burnt military vehicles.

JIAT has vetted the possibility of the incident, and following verification of all related documents; including the procedures and Rules of Engagement, Daily Mission Schedule, After Mission Reports, video recordings of the missions, satellite imagery, provisions and principles of IHL and its Customary Rules and assessment of evidences. JIAT also reviewed the history of the political and military events in (Sanaa) city and (Al-Hasba) district in particular.

JIAT found that the district witnessed a military clashes in which all weapons and ammunitions were used between Yemeni political and tribal forces leading to the control of the district by Houthi armed militia, posting fortifications and barracks at its entrances, and using residential houses and civilians' assets to protect and reinforce their presence in the district.

Intelligence confirmed that Houthi armed militia seized a fenced housing compound of a tribal Chief it had four buildings of several storeys and a courtyard, it had stronghold and was used by Houthi armed militia commanders for their meetings, other buildings for storing their military equipment.

The compound was considered legitimate military targets, which their destruction would achieve a military advantage according to Article 52/2 of, Protocol (I) Additional to the Geneva Conventions. As verification degrees are available based on Customary Rule 16 of IHL.

Furthermore, ground intelligence confirmed that there were Houthi commanders meeting late at that night in the seized building, this was supported by the dense presence of armed vehicles, and security points along the street eading to the targeted site.

The legal protection of the civilian property lost its protection based on being used by the Houthi militia to support their military operations in violation of Article 52/3 of the Additional Protocol I to Geneva Conventions. And on Monday (21/09/2015), at 04:30 am, the Coalition air forces targeted the four fenced buildings using guided bombs.

Having examined the documents related to the implemented military operation, JIAT found that there was a military advantage from the implemented operation.

However, after reviewing aerial and satellite images, video recordings, and after-mission reports, JIAT found that, due to technical fault with the aircraft guidance systems, one bomb fell on a small one-storey building 80-meter away from the military target, and second bomb fell on another building 150-meter away from the military target.

In light of that, JIAT found that the procedures taken by the Coalition forces in targeting the legitimate military target (complex) were correct and in accordance with the International Humanitarian Law and its Customary Rules. JIAT recommends that the Coalition forces reviews and correct the causes of the technical fault with the aircraft guidance systems to prevent future recurrence.

JIAT also recommends that the coalition states provide assistance for the human losses and material damages that took place to the two buildings due to the technical fault with the aircraft guidance systems.

Source: Saudi Press Agency