The Saudi-led coalition made a mistake when it carried out a deadly bombing next to a hospital supported by Doctors Without Borders in northern Yemen, an “independent” probe said today.
Many findings of the investigation contradict those of the charity, also known by its French initials MSF, which called the August 15 attack “unjustified and unprovoked”.
In March 2015, the Saudi-led coalition launched air strikes in Yemen against Iran-supported Shiite Huthi rebels and their allies after the rebels overran much of Yemen.
The coalition has faced repeated allegations of killing civilians in its campaign to support Yemen’s internationally recognised government led by President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.
The Joint Incident Assessment Team (JIAT), which the coalition says operates independently, numbered seven deaths in the strike on Abs hospital, although MSF said 19 people were killed.
Coalition forces which had attacked a Huthi leadership gathering that day noticed a vehicle leaving the area, JIAT spokesman Mansur al-Mansur told a press conference in Riyadh.
A pilot followed the vehicle and then bombed it next to a building that was not identifiable as a hospital, he said.
“There was no indication that it was a hospital prior to the bombing,” Mansur said, adding that the vehicle was a “legitimate military target”.
Because of the “unintentional mistake” of damage to the hospital, the coalition must apologise and provide assistance to the families of those affected, Mansur said.
The coalition must also investigate those responsible to find the extent of their violation of rules of engagement and “take proper action”, he said.
MSF said the hospital was identifiable by logos, and its GPS coordinates had been provided.
It said the vehicle targeted was civilian, carrying patients believed to be victims of other strikes.