Coalition denies targeting Yemen school as 10 kids killed
RIYADH - Agence France-Presse
REUTERS photoThe Saudi-led coalition on Aug. 14 denied targeting a Yemeni school in air strikes that killed 10 children, instead saying it bombed a camp at which Iran-backed rebels train underage soldiers.
Doctors Without Borders, a Paris-based relief agency also known as MSF, said the children were killed on Aug. 13 in coalition air raids on a school in Haydan, a town in rebel-held Saada province.
The coalition of Arab states has been battling the Huthi rebels since 2015 after the insurgents seized Sanaa before expanding to other parts of the country.
Ten days ago it acknowledged “shortcomings” in two out of eight cases it has investigated of strikes on civilian targets in Yemen that the U.N. has condemned.
Coalition spokesman General Ahmed Assiri said the strikes hit a Huthi training camp, killing militia fighters including a leader identified as Yehya Munassar Abu Rabua.
“The site that was bombed... is a major training camp for militia,” he told AFP. “Why would children be at a training camp?”
Yemen’s government had confirmed to the coalition that “there is no school in this area,” he said.
Assiri said MSF’s toll “confirms the Huthis’ practice of recruiting and subjecting children to terror.”
“They... use them as scouts, guards, messengers and fighters,” Assiri said, noting previous reports from Human Rights Watch on the rebels’ use of underage recruits.
“When jets target training camps, they cannot distinguish between ages,” he added.
MSF spokeswoman Malak Shaher said those killed in the strikes on “a Koranic school” were all under the age of 15.
She called on “all parties to take the measures necessary to protect civilians.”