Saudi-led coalition fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen has failed to investigate hundreds of reported civilian casualties in the country, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Friday.
The group’s report includes details of what it said were 10 allegedly unlawful coalition strikes that led to the killing of at least 309 civilians, and wounded an additional 414 others. In each of the incidents, the inspectors concluded that there was "either no evident military target or that the attack failed to distinguish civilians from military objectives."
During the seven months of war in Yemen, at least 5,600 people have been reported dead, some 2,600 of them were civilians, the office for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said on Oct. 27.
In Friday's report, HRW said the Houthis specifically endangered civilians, but focused primarily on the coalition's misconduct. For several months, the UN has said the majority of civilian deaths in the conflict resulted from Saudi-led airstrikes.
The report for the first time mentioned the United States as a party involved in Yemen conflict, and urged Washington to carry out its own investigations into civilian casualties.
As of October, US planes flying over Saudi Arabia had refueled coalition jets more than 2,100 times but distanced itself from potential war crimes carried out by those very planes.
Among the attacks listed in the report was the May 12 aerial assault of Zabid, a rebel-controlled town about 37 miles from the Red Sea port of Hodeida. At least five bombs hit the town on that day which killed at least 60 civilians, including 13 women and eight children according to the report.
"I saw at least 50 limbs ripped apart from the fragments of the explosion," Abdullah Amin al-Dhabi, a local freelance journalist who arrived at the scene told HRW. "I also saw other bodies of people I could recognise in front of the Shagia restaurant. There I saw my cousin, next to the bodies of three other people I knew: two of them were kids under the age of 12, another was a woman who used to sell bread by the door of the restaurant."
As a result of Houthi aggression, Yemeni President Abed Rabbu Mansour Hadi had to move to the Saudi capital Riyadh in late March, and formally request Arab states to help “save Yemen” from Houthi expansion. Since then, the Saudi-led coalition operations have commenced.
About 2.3 million people have been left with no choice but to flee their homes and an additional 120,000 to flee the country since the war began.