HRW reports probable use of cluster bombs in Yemen by Saudi-led coalition

The Human Rights Watch reports probable use of civilian threatening cluster bombs in Saudi-led air strikes in Northern Yemen

Photo by: HRW
Photo by: HRW

Updated Jul 28, 2015

The Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported on Sunday, the Saudi-led international coalition is suspected of dropping cluster bombs in the northern Yemeni region of Saada.

“Credible evidence indicates that the Saudi-led coalition used banned cluster munitions supplied by the United States in air strikes against Houthi forces in Yemen,” the human rights advocacy agency stated.

“Photographs, video, and other evidence have emerged since mid-April 2015 indicating that cluster munitions have been used during recent weeks in coalition air strikes in Yemen’s northern Saada governorate, the traditional Houthi stronghold bordering Saudi Arabia,” it continued.

An international coalition consisting of the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait and led by Saudi Arabia began Operation “Decisive Storm” on March 25 in an attempt to prevent Houthi militias from capturing Aden from Yemeni government forces.

Backed by Iran, the Houthis took control of the Yemeni capital of Sanaa in September through an armed uprising, causing the Yemeni government to flee to Aden after the group attempted to disband the Yemeni government in January.

Activists estimate that the Houthi offensive has displaced over 250,000 civilians, many of which fled north to Saudi Arabia. 

Despite the end of the Operation “Decisive Storm” earlier this month, the Saudi-led coalition has continued conducting sporadic strikes.

Cluster bombs, once dropped out of a plane or used as a howitzer shell disperse canisters of high explosives in its immediate vicinity.

In 2008, 116 countries adopted a resolution to ban the use of cluster bombs due to the long term danger they pose to civilians.

Saudi Arabia, Yemen and the bomb’s manufacturer, the US, did not adopt the resolution banning their use.  

Unlike conventional shells or bombs, cluster bombs no not detonate upon impact but later detonate when stepped on or picked up by unsuspecting individuals.

Due to the small cylindrical size, the dispersed explosive charges are often mistaken for canned food and other harmless objects.

HRW’s report included testimony from local villagers describing the parachute assisted descent of the cluster bombs as well as photo and video evidence recovered from the scene of the bombings.

The Saudi-led coalition announced an end to Operation “Decisive Storm” in late April in order to seek a “political” solution to Yemen’s internal turmoil through Operation “Restoring Hope,” however sporadic air strikes have continued.

The reports of civilian casualties came hours after the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced its latest figures of the total number of casualties resulting from the air strikes in Yemen.

The WHO reported on Thursday that 1,244 people had been killed in the coalition air strikes across the country as of April 27.

Saudi Arabia has yet to comment on the HRW's report. 


TRTWorld and agencies