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Coalition did not conduct airstrike on house in Yemeni village, Joint Incident Assessment Team rules

RIYADH: The Joint Incident Assessment Team has cleared the coalition of alleged human rights violations linked to historical airstrikes, including the targeting of a village house in 2015.

The JIAT on Wednesday responded to four claims reported by media and rights groups about alleged operational misconduct by the military alliance.

Its spokesman Mansour Al-Mansour said an investigation had concluded that coalition forces did not carry out any air missions in the village of Tharah — in Mawiah directorate of Taiz governorate — and that the closest military target engaged by the coalition was 18.5 km from the house mentioned in the claim.

A second claim related to an alleged attack on Burkan Health Center in Razih directorate of Sa’da governorate in May 2015, as reported by Doctors for Human Rights in March 2020.

According to Al-Mansour, the JIAT found that Burkan village is located west of Sa’da, and no specific coordinate for the health center was provided by the claim. He said that searches of official websites, including that of the National Information Center in Yemen, which contains information about health centers and hospitals in the country, failed to identify the location of the Burkan facility.

The JIAT also found that the coalition did not carry out any air missions in Razih and that its closest military target was in Shada directorate, which is 6.5 km from Burkan village.

The coalition was also accused of carrying out an airstrike in Al-Mas’afa village in Al-Hazm directorate of Al-Jouf governorate in July 2020 that resulted in civilian casualties.

The JIAT examined the incident and reviewed all documents, including air-tasking orders, daily mission schedules, mission execution procedures, after-mission reports, video recordings of the executed mission, satellite images and open sources.

It also visited related field units, met relevant people inside Yemen and with personnel linked to the executed military operation. It also looked at the provisions and principles of international humanitarian law.

After its assessment, the team found that the procedures taken by coalition forces in dealing with a vehicle carrying fighter elements of Al-Houthi armed militia in Al-Ghariqah valley and fighter elements of Al-Houthi armed militia inside two buildings in Al-Mas’afa village were correct and in accordance with the IHL.

It also found inaccuracy in the claim that civilians were evacuated from Al-Mas’afa village, as they were later found inside one of the buildings.

It recommended the field commander of the supported force be accountable for providing inaccurate information that the building in Al-Mas’afa village was evacuated of civilians at the time of the targeting.

It also recommended coalition states provide assistance for human losses caused by targeting a building in Al-Mas’afa.

The JIAT also conducted investigations into claims made on Sept. 3, 2019 by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights that on April 20, 2016, a boarding school for blind girls in Sana’a was targeted, forcing its closure.

The team found that the coalition did not carry out any air missions in Sana’a and that the closest military target it dealt with — and only air mission inside Yemen that day — was in Marib governorate, some 78 km away.

Regarding the allegation that the coalition targeted a house in Dimnat Khadir directorate of Taiz governorate in April 2018, the JIAT found that it did not carry out any air missions in Dimnat Khadir at that time and that its closest target was in Maqbanah directorate, 48 km from Al-Dimnah city.

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