U.S.-backed Saudi coalition admits Yemen school bus strike was unjustified

Yemeni children protest a Saudi coalition airstrike that killed dozens of people on a school bus.
(Image credit: Mohammed Huwais/Getty Images)

The U.S.-enabled, Saudi-led coalition intervening in Yemen's civil war on Saturday admitted its August airstrike on a school bus was unjustified.

The bombing, which used an American-made weapon, killed 51 people, 40 of them children. Facing international outrage, the coalition promised to investigate itself. Saudi state media reported Houthi rebel fighters were thought to be among the bus passengers, arguing the vehicle was therefore a "legitimate" military target. Nevertheless, investigators concluded the timing of the attack led to a "mistake."

"There was a clear delay in preparing the fighter jet at the appropriate time and place, thus losing [the opportunity] to target this bus as a military target in an open area in order to avoid such collateral damage," said Mansour Ahmed al-Mansour, a legal adviser for the investigation. "The team believes that the coalition forces should immediately review the application of their rules of engagement to ensure compliance."

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The coalition said the victims' families would be compensated and those responsible for the error would be held accountable.

Human rights organizations and a broad array of observers have credibly accused the U.S.-supported coalition of war crimes for its callous exacerbation of the rampant suffering of the Yemeni civilian population, which in addition to airstrike casualties is suffering a cholera epidemic and sits on the brink of famine.

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