Middle East

Yemen conflict: Civilian deaths 'amount to war crimes'

Smoke rises after an airstrike by the Saudi-led coalition in Sanaa, Yemen, on 14 July, 2015 Image copyright AP
Image caption Amnesty International said it found a pattern of air raids targeting heavily-populated sites

All sides in the conflict in Yemen have left a "trail of civilian death and destruction" and may have committed war crimes, Amnesty International says.

A report documents hundreds of cases in which people have been killed or injured in their homes since March.

It accuses the Saudi-led coalition aiming to restore the exiled government of carrying out unlawful air strikes.

The Houthi rebel movement and its allies are meanwhile condemned for using heavy weapons indiscriminately.

On Tuesday, coalition warplanes targeted Houthi positions in the Red Sea port of Hudaydah, reportedly destroying cranes and warehouses at the aid hub.

There were also clashes overnight in the third city of Taiz, where the Houthis and allied army units loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh have made advances.

'Deadly crossfire'

The UN says that since the coalition began its bombing campaign on 26 March, at least 1,950 civilians have been killed and 4,271 wounded in air strikes and fighting.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Thousands of civilians have been injured in the conflict, which escalated in March

Amnesty's 30-page report documents eight air strikes that took place in June and July and resulted in the deaths of 141 people, mostly women and children.

The human rights group said the evidence gathered had revealed a pattern of raids targeting heavily-populated sites, including a mosque, a school and a market. In the majority of cases, no military target could be located nearby, it added.

Amnesty also investigated 30 attacks on the ground in the second city of Aden and in Taiz by the Houthis and anti-Houthi armed groups, which left 68 civilians dead.

Fighters from both parties routinely used imprecise weapons including Grad-type rockets, mortars and artillery fire in densely-populated residential areas, displaying utter disregard for the safety of civilians, the group found.

Amnesty called on the UN Human Rights Council to create an international commission of inquiry to independently and impartially investigate alleged war crimes in Yemen.


Image copyright Reuters

Why is there fighting in Yemen?

  • Northern Shia Muslim rebels known as Houthis, backed by forces loyal to Yemen's ex-president, took over parts of Yemen, including Sanaa, and forced the government into exile in March
  • The rebels accused the government of corruption and of planning to marginalise their heartland within a proposed federal system
  • Forces loyal to the government, and southern militia, are fighting back, aided by air strikes led by neighbouring Saudi Arabia

Yemen crisis: Who is fighting whom?

Meeting the Houthis and their enemies