Rights Group: Saudis Committing War Crimes in Yemen with US Aid

On Thursday, October 13, the NGO Human Rights Watch termed as a “possible war crime” the October 8 attack by the Saudi Arabian-led coalition on a funeral in Saana, Yemen, in which about 140 people persons were killed and another 600 were injured, as “a disproportionate number of those killed were civilians.” The targeted funeral was that of Ali al-Rawishan, the father of the Sanaa-based administration’s interior minister, Jalal al-Rawishan. While military personnel and civilian officials involved in the war effort were attending the ceremony, the clear presence of several hundred civilians strongly suggests that the attack was unlawfully disproportionate.

On Saturday, October 15, the Arab48 webpage newsletter reported that the Saudis had admitted their responsibility for the massacre, after having previously denied the role of Saudi-coalition aircraft in the attack.


Since March 26, 2015, the Saudi-led coalition of nine Arab countries, with direct military support from the US and assistance from the UK, has conducted numerous unlawful attacks in Yemen. Human Rights Watch has documented 58 unlawful airstrikes causing civilian loss of life and property. Other human rights organizations, as well as the UN, have documented dozens more.

In a related incident, it should be noted that the Houthi rebels against whom the Saudi-led coalition is fighting in Yemen have repeatedly denied involvement in firing rockets at American destroyers off the coast of the country. Nevertheless, in recent days US armed forces fired cruise missiles at three radar systems located in territory controlled by the rebels in response to two rockets fired at a US destroyer. Officials at the Pentagon said that President Barack Obama authorized the attacks, the first to have been conducted by Washington directly against the Houthi rebels since the start of the war in Yemen. The Houthis are supported by Iran. Following the American action, the Houthis again denied having launched missiles at any US destroyers.

According to Human Rights Watch, the US and UK’s  provision of weapons and intelligence to Saudi Arabia makes them partners in the latter’s war crimes.

Related: The full report released by Human Rights Watch (in English):