Saudi-led coalition air strikes on Thursday killed dozens of people, including children travelling on a bus through a market, in Yemen’s Saada province, a Yemeni health official and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said.
— Johannes Bruwer (@JohannesBruwer1) August 9, 2018
The World Health Organisation (WHO) representative in Yemen, Nevio Zagaria, said it has deployed emergency supplies. “I am extremely saddened by what happened in Saada … The attack on civilians is not acceptable.”
The alliance says it does not intentionally target civilians and has set up a committee to probe alleged mass casualty air strikes, which has mostly cleared the coalition of any blame.
“Today’s attack in Saada was a legitimate military operation … and was carried out in accordance with international humanitarian law,” the coalition said in the Arabic-language statement carried by SPA.
“Targeting Saudis and residents in Saudi is a red line,” coalition spokesman Turki al-Malki later told Al Arabiya TV.
US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the United States was concerned about reports of the air strikes and urged the Saudi-led coalition to “conduct a thorough and transparent investigation.”
Separately, a White House National Security Council spokeswoman referred to “conflicting reports in global media” and said, “we are waiting for an official assessment of what actually happened.”
Asked if the White House and the State Department were offering differing views, the spokeswoman said: “We have the same position.”
UN Secretary-General António Guterres on Thursday condemned the air strike and called for an “independent and prompt investigation,” his spokesman said.
Fragments from the Houthi missile launched at Jizan Industrial City killed one Yemeni civilian and wounded 11, Saudi state media said earlier on Thursday.
The Houthis have launched a series of missile strikes on the kingdom, including Riyadh, over the past year.
Saada, the main stronghold of the Houthis, has mainly come under air strikes from the coalition as the mountainous province makes battles hard for pro-government ground troops.
The Yemen war has killed more than 10,000 people, displaced more than 2 million and driven the country to the verge of famine, according to the United Nations.