Large-scale “massacres” have been perpetrated in Yemen by Houthi militias and forces loyal to ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh, a recent report has found.
Yemen’s National Human Rights Commission pointed to crimes against unarmed civilians including indiscriminate shelling of residential compounds and popular markets, using artillery and Katyusha rocket launchers.
The report described grave violations of international human rights law and crimes against humanity, saying the perpetrators must be punished.
It cited 11 incidents in which Houthi and forces loyal to Saleh carried out massacres, including the targeting and killing of displaced people from Tawahi, with militia dropping mortars on unarmed civilians fleeing in small boats.
According to the report, human rights teams monitored the killing of 10,811 Yemeni civilians over the past two years by Houthi gunfire and shelling, including 679 women, 1,002 children, and 9,160 men. The majority were killed in 2015, the report revealed, confirming that Houthi and Saleh militias had been deliberately targeting civilians.
The rise of civilian deaths in 2015 was attributed by the commission to the invasion by Houthi militia and Saleh loyalists of Yemen’s central and southern provinces, where they had been indiscriminately bombing populated areas, including schools and hospitals.
The report continued to indicate that the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen had not targeted any civilians or struck populated residential areas.
Despite the availability of information about the presence of weapons and ammunition in such residential areas, the coalition had refrained from bombing these areas to avoid claiming lives of innocent civilians, the report found.
Instead, the coalition relies on targeted military operations in order to avoid any loss of civilian life, and is committed to maintaining war ethics and refraining from violating human rights or international standards.
A joint incident assessment committee has been formed, comprising of 14 members including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Yemen, Qatar, Bahrain and the UAE, which will investigate any accusations of violations.