Saudi airstrike in Yemen draws protests, rebuke from United States

Militants loyal to Yemen's President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi have been supported by a Saudi Arabian-led coalition as they fight rebels looking to displace the internationally recognized government there. An airstrike Saturday at a funeral killed more than 140 and wounded more than 525, inspiring protests and calling for investigations into the coalition's efforts to minimize civilian deaths as it fights the rebel group. File photo by Anees Mahyoub/UPI | License Photo

SANAA, Yemen, Oct. 9 (UPI) — Residents of the capital in Yemen protested Sunday after Saudi Arabia launched an airstrike on a funeral Saturday, leaving a “lake of blood” that drew international calls for an investigation.

The United Nations, European Union and United States all condemned a Saudi Arabian airstrike that killed 140 and wounded more than 525, leading to multiple calls for an investigation into the attack and drawing thousands into the streets to protest the bombing.

Saudi Arabia has been involved with the civil war in Yemen since 2015, allying itself against Houthi rebels trying to overthrow the internationally recognized government there. The Saudis have been fighting to protect their border with the country, and in defense of the government of former president Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

While the strike may have killed many high ranking members of the rebel group, the majority of those who died or were injured are thought to have been innocent civilians.

Thousands of Yemenis gathered in the streets around the United Nations headquarters, protesting the Saudi strike and calling for an investigation, echoing what leaders around the world have already said.

Other recent airstrikes by Saudi Arabia in Yemen have raised concern, and the rebels themselves have asked for a ceasefire to stop the bombing campaigns, however the international community — which has supported Saudi efforts in Yemen — is calling for an investigation.

“U.S. security cooperation with Saudi Arabia is not a blank check,” Ned Price, spokesman for the U.S. National Security Council, said in a press release. “Even as we assist Saudi Arabia regarding the defense of their territorial integrity, we have and will continue to express our serious concerns about the conflict in Yemen and how it has been waged. In light of this and other recent incidents, we have initiated an immediate review of our already significantly reduced support to the Saudi-led coalition and are prepared to adjust our support so as to better align with U.S. principles, values and interests, including achieving an immediate and durable end to Yemen’s tragic conflict.”

Price, in addition to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and other global leaders, called for an investigation by Saudi Arabia into the strike and the selection of targets for future strikes.

In a statement, the Saudi-led coalition called reports about the strike “regrettable and painful,” but did not make any statement about whether the funeral was properly targeted — which Houthi leaders have already charged was approved by the United States.

“The coalition confirms that its troops have clear instructions not to target populated areas and to avoid civilians,” the coalition said in the statement. “The coalition will immediately investigate this case along with Joint Incidents Assessment Team in Yemen.”


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