U.S.-backed warplanes carried out a targeted attack on children in Yemen today. Airstrikes struck a bus full of young children driving through a market on their way to summer camp. Saudi Arabia has defended the attack as a “legitimate military action.”
Just last week, Saudi warplanes attacked a fish market in Hodeidah province and subsequently the entrance to the hospital killing or injuring over 130 civilians.
The air attack took place in the heart of Yemen’s Saada province — a favorite location for the Royal Saudi Air Force to commit their genocide against civilians. According to Saada’s local Health Ministry spokesman, a total of 51 lost their lives and 79 sustained injuries.
Although a handful of the victims included teachers and local shoppers on the street, children made up the majority of those killed — many under the age of 10. A large number of those wounded are in critical condition so the official statistics could grow even higher.
Additional attacks today included a funeral procession — also in Saada — five were killed and a handful of others wounded. Yesterday, air raids targeted civilian areas in the northwestern province of Amran killing 18 — mostly women and children.
As with the fish market attack, the local hospital called on civilians to donate blood to help the victims.
As of late, Saudi Arabian officials have generally declined to comment on their genocidal behavior in Yemen. This time, however, was different. A statement from the coalition’s official spokesman, Colonel Turki AlMalki, arrogantly defended the operation as a “legitimate military action” to target militants.
Yes, Riyadh says the elementary school children were militants carrying out terrorist acts. The statement further defended the attack implying that they will do it again as they see fit because their actions are in accordance with “International Humanitarian Law and its Customary Rules.”
“The Coalition will take all necessary measures against the terrorist, criminal acts of the terrorist Iranian-Houthi militia,” Al-Malki continued.
Saudi Arabia frequently uses UN resolution 2216 to justify their actions in Yemen which they claim are carried out on behalf of the international community. As head of Sana’a’s Supreme Political Committee, Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, explained to MintPress in March.
“They know that the resolution (No. 2216) they are pushing today — by calling for its acceptance in order to stop the aggression — was decided 20 days after beginning their aggression against us. The Security Council did not condone them committing massacres against the Yemeni people and this aggression is not justified: there is no justification to it. What America, Saudi Arabia, and its allies in Yemen are doing is so far away from international legitimacy and the United Nations’ charters.”
There’s enough to pick apart in Riyadh’s response without even diving into the Iran-Houthi argument. Even if it’s assumed that the children on the bus were, in fact, child soldiers as Saudi Arabia claims (they weren’t), what was the intended purpose of preemptively bombing them on a bus?
This blatant massacre is just the latest in a long line of purposeful attacks on children in Yemen by members of the Saudi coalition.
According to Yemen’s Health Ministry, today’s attack brings the total of child casualties to over 3,000. Women and children make up roughly one-third of the nearly 40,000 killed or injured since the war began in March of 2015.
One of the most heinous attacks on children prior to today’s took place in April of this year when warplanes bombed a refugee camp killing seven children and infants. The U.S.-Saudi coalition frequently targets homes filled with families as well as crowded markets, schools, buses, and other places children would frequently patron.
The Red Cross, Oxfam, International Rescue Committee, and even the United Nations Secretary-General strongly condemned the attack and urged parties to protect civilian life.
Frank McManus, the IRC’s Yemen director said, “Today should be the day the world wakes up to the atrocities going on in Yemen … a bus full of school children cannot be viewed as mere collateral damage. Even wars have rules, but rules without consequences mean nothing. If there is any chance of innocent lives, especially those of children, being lost in an attack, that attack should not take place.”
Mohammed Ali al-Houthi pointed out that today’s attack appeared to be premeditated citing the purely civilian nature of the location: a bus full of children in the middle of a crowded market. Al-Houthi pointed out that this action proves that the leadership of the coalition does not seek peace.
Ansarullah spokesman, Mohammed Abdul Salam, drew attention to the hypocrisy of the government in exile which calls itself legitimate yet carries out actions far beyond the logic of basic law and humanity.
Abdul Salam also explained that the coalition’s behavior relates to that of Daesh (ISIS) since both Saudi Arabia and the terror group feed off U.S. support. He cited the similarities in behavior in coalition-occupied territory including mass torture, mass rape, and kidnappings.
A report from the Associated Press recently proved that the Saudi-coalition pays al-Qaeda to move around Yemen rather than fight them as they claim to do.
The United States provides the Saudi coalition with the bulk of its weapons to carry out its over three-year war against Yemen. Washington also provides Saudi and Emirati troops with training, logistics, and even intelligence support for selecting airstrike targets.
This was originally published in Geopolitics Alert.