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    Thursday, 11 January 2018

    Air strikes in north Yemen kill at least 14: witnesses, rebels

    Saudi-led coalition air strikes on a marketplace and house in rebel-held northern Yemen have left at least 14 people dead, witnesses and a rebel-run news agency said Thursday.


    An eyewitness in the northern province of Saada told that 12 people had been killed in strikes on the marketplace on Wednesday evening, including women.
    The rebel-run news agency Saba gave the same toll and accused the coalition of using cluster bombs in that attack in Kataf city.
    In the Baqim district of Saada province, two people were killed in a Saudi-led air strike on a house, another witness said.
    Saba gave the same toll and said that separate strikes on a house near the Saudi border had left another two people dead although there was no independent confirmation.
    Saudi Arabia leads a military coalition that intervened in Yemen in March 2015 with the stated aim of rolling back Houthi rebel gains and restoring the country’s internationally recognised government to power.
    More than 9,000 people have been killed in Yemen since then, according to the World Health Organization.
    Saada is a stronghold of the Iran-backed Houthis who continue to hold large swathes of territory in the north including the capital Sanaa.
    In early November, the coalition tightened a blockade on Yemeni ports and airports in response to a missile fired by the Shia Houthis that was intercepted near Riyadh airport.
    The country is facing what the United Nations has described as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
    The UN Human Rights Council agreed Friday to send war crimes investigators to Yemen, overcoming resistance from Saudi Arabia which sought to fend off an independent international probe.

    A resolution adopted by consensus mandated UN rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein to send three experts to the country to “carry out a comprehensive examination of all alleged violations and abuses of international human rights” committed in the ongoing conflict.
    The UN Human Rights Council was deadlocked earlier over whether to send war crimes investigators to Yemen, a move being pushed by some EU states but fiercely resisted by Saudi Arabia.
    A European Union resolution led by the Dutch and Canada, calls for a Commission of Inquiry (COI) to be dispatched to Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition has been bombarding rebels since March of 2015.
    The Saudis have, in a letter leaked to several media outlets, threatened economic and diplomatic retaliation against rights council members that vote for the Dutch/Canadian proposal
    Commissions of inquiry are the UN’s highest level probes and have turned up evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity in crisis-hit countries like Syria, North Korea and Burundi.
    The Arab group in the 47-member rights council has put forward a milder proposal, which calls for a team of three experts to be sent to Yemen to “carry out a comprehensive assessment into all alleged violations” and to then engage with Yemen’s domestic inquiry.
    The UN rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein has repeatedly called for the more robust COI and said that the Yemeni national inquiry is not capable of conducting a meaningful probe.
    The two camps were due to agree on a compromise text on Friday morning but the deadline has repeatedly been pushed back.
    Council spokesperson Rolando Gomez said discussions were ongoing. Countries with significant and lucrative ties to Saudi Arabia, including the United States, Britain and France, were reported to be seeking a compromise between the two camps.
    The Saudi-led coalition has been accused of bombing schools, markets, hospitals and other civilian targets in Yemen, where they intervened to support President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.
    Hadi says the Huthi rebels are supported by Saudi’s regional arch-rival Iran.
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