News ID: 230974
Published: 0236 GMT September 07, 2018

Saudis admit error over deaths of second group of Yemeni children

Saudis admit error over deaths of second group of Yemeni children
A Yemeni boy recites a prayer by the graves of pupils killed while on a bus hit by a Saudi-led coalition airstrike in August.

The Saudi-led coalition fighting to undermine the Houthi Ansarullah movement in Yemen once again admitted that its bombing campaign may have hit civilians, the second time in a week it has made such a rare admission.

Saudi Arabia is under pressure from the UK and the US both to improve its accuracy and to accept error if internal reviews find civilians have been hit. The Trump administration is required shortly to state if it is willing to continue to sell arms to Saudi Arabia in light of the repeated air attacks killing civilians, the Guardian reported.

The Spanish government this week ended arms sales to Saudi Arabia, including 400 laser-guided bombs.

The latest admission of Saudi error focuses on a strike on August 23rd that the UN says killed 26 children south of the port of Hodeida. UN Undersecretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock said the 26 children and four women killed were in the Al-Durayhimi area.

In a statement released by the Saudi Press Agency, coalition spokesman Colonel Turki al-Maliki said: “According to the results of the comprehensive review … there might have been collateral damage and civilian casualties.

“All documents relating to this incident have been handed over to the joint incidents assessment team pending assessment and announcement of results,” he added.

Last Saturday, the Saudis admitted a bombing raid on August 9 that killed 51 people, including 40 children, in the north of the country was due to mistakes by the Saudi Air Force.

Alistair Burt, the Middle East minister in the UK, on Tuesday described the report by the joint incidents assessment team last weekend as “almost unparalleled in terms of admitting error and pointing out where that error was. I think that the hand of the United Kingdom can be seen in the work that we have done with the coalition over time in order to ensure that should things go wrong, there is proper accountability.”

The Houthis accuse the coalition of knowingly targeting children.

The admissions came as the first UN peace talks on Yemen in Geneva since 2016 were stalled due to a refusal of the Houthi delegation to attend the talks until its preconditions were met.

The preconditions include the transporting of wounded people to Oman, the repatriation of Yemenis who already received treatment in Oman, and a guarantee that the Houthi delegation will be allowed to return to Sana’a once the talks end.

The Saudi-led alliance intervened in Yemen in 2015 to restore former president, Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, a staunch ally of Riyadh and undermine the Houthi Ansarullah movement.

The war has damaged Yemen's infrastructure, crippled the health system and pushed the country to the brink of famine.

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