Joint Incidents Assessment Team Refutes Allegations against Coalition Forces

Wednesday 1442/4/10 - 2020/11/25
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Riyadh, Nov 25, 2020, SPA -- Official Spokesman of the Joint Incidents Assessment Team (JIAT) in Yemen Legal Counsellor Mansour Al-Mansour refuted a number of claims raised by global bodies and international organizations on errors allegedly committed by the Coalition Forces to Support Legitimacy in Yemen during their military operations in Yemen.
In a press conference held at the Armed Forces Officers Club in Riyadh today, Al-Mansour reviewed the results of assessing four incidents included in those claims as follows:
With regard to the report (UN Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen) issued (July 13, 2020) that Coalition Forces carried out an air strike in (Al-Washha) directorate of (Hajjah) governorate on (12/07/2020), killing seven children and two women, and injuring two children and two women who were rescued to (Abs) hospital. The JIAT vetted the incident, and reviewed all documents, including daily mission schedule, air tasking orders, after mission report, interviewing and listening to those concerned, surveillance and reconnaissance system video recordings, satellite images of the targeted site, operational reports, intelligence reports, summary of electronic warfare activity of wireless communications, Coalition Forces rules of engagement, provisions and principles of International Humanitarian Law and its customary rules, and after assessment of evidences, JIAT found that Coalition Forces received intelligence reports about a building with (2) communications masts on top of it, and AlHouthi armed militia are using that building as (command and communications center) to direct combat operations.
By examining operational and intelligence reports, electronic monitoring operations, surveillance and reconnaissance operations, JIAT found the following:
- Movements of elements of Al-Houthi armed militia, were observed in various locations (Washha) area.
- Presence of elements of Al-Houthi armed militia, were observed inside (the building used as a command and communications center).
- Warning and motivational communications against Coalition Forces, were observed through electronic monitoring.
- Radar transmission of anti-aircraft missiles (Sam 6) were observed in the area.
Which is considered to be a legitimate military target that the targeting of it is a tangible, direct and certain military advantage, and that (the building used as a command and communications center) lost its legal protection for the use of it to contribute effectively to military actions, based on Article (52) of the First Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions, and rule (8) of the customary International Humanitarian Law.
The intelligence was verified by monitoring (the building used as a command and communications center) in (Washha) directorate of (Hajjah) governorate, by means of surveillance and reconnaissance system for 4 days, which confirmed the presence of elements and leaders of Al-Houthi armed militia on an ongoing basis, based on rule (16) of customary International Humanitarian Law.
Coalition forces have taken possible precautions to avoid accidental loss or damage to civilian objects or to minimize them during the planning and execution of the military operation through the following:
- Performing a reconnaissance mission over the target, to make sure there are no civilians around the target.
- Use of a guided bomb and proportional to the size of the target.
- Ensuring that civilians are not present before and during the targeting operation. Based on article 57 of The First Additional Protocol of the Geneva Conventions and rules (15) and (17) of customary international humanitarian law.
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18:52 LOCAL TIME 15:52 GMT
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Joint Incidents Assessment Team Refutes Allegations against Coalition Forces 2
Official Spokesman of the Joint Incidents Assessment Team (JIAT) in Yemen Legal Counsellor Mansour Al-Mansour also said that on Sunday (12/07/2020), while monitoring (the building used as a command and communications center), a Toyota pick-up truck was observed carrying Al-Houthi leader (H.S.) accompanied by armed elements and a person in uniform, heading to the same building. After entering the building and while they were inside, the Coalition Forces carried out an air mission at (1:30) p.m. on a military target (the building used as a command and communications center, and Al-Houthi leader, armed elements of Al-Houthi armed militia inside it), in (Washha) directorate of (Hajjah) governorate, using one guided bomb that did not hit its target.
By reviewing all the information received by the claim and documents relating to the military operation carried out, JIAT found the following:
- The site in claim is located at the foot of a mountain in the village of (Beit al-Qateeb), east of (Washha) directorate in (Hajjah) governorate, and approximately (780) meters away from the military target (the building used as a command and communications center).
- The military target (the building used as a command and communications center) is a stone building on top of a mountain in the village of (Beit al-Qateeb), east of (Washha) directorate in (Hajjah) governorate, in a semi-isolated area.
- (2) medium-sized communication masts above the building.
- The after-mission report of the air formation carried out, showed that the bomb did not hit its target.
By studying the video recordings of the (surveillance and reconnaissance) system before, during and after the targeting operation, JIAT found the following:
- The Toyota pick-up truck was observed carrying Al-Houthi leader, accompanied by armed elements and a person in uniform, heading to and entering (the building used as a command and communications center).
- Broken clouds around the target area appear during the targeting phase, and broken clouds reached over the military target approximately (15) seconds after the bomb is released.
- The bomb did not fall on the specified military target.
- Al-Houthi Armed militia elements flee the site and disperse in a (deployment) manner after the targeting operation.
- The surveillance and reconnaissance system were unable to locate the bomb and assess the results of the mission, due to the entry of clouds over the area were the bomb was hit.
- A post-targeting survey and assessment was conducted the following day on site were the bomb was hit, and traces of damage from an air targeting were observed on (a building) (780) meters away from the military target.
- By reviewing what was published in the media about the damage to (a building) at the foot of a mountain in the target area, it was the same building that was (780) meters away from the military target.
- JIAT believes that the bomb did not fall on the military target due to the entry of (broken clouds) into the target area, (15) seconds after the bomb was released, affecting the bomb's response to the laser guidance and it fall short of the military target.
In light of that, JIAT reached the following:
- The procedures taken by Coalition Forces, in targeting (the building used by Al-Houthi armed militia as a command and communications center, and Al-Houthi leader with armed elements of Al-Houthi armed militia inside it) east of (Washha) directorate in (Hajjah) governorate, were correct and in accordance with the International Humanitarian Law and its customary rules.
JIAT recommends the following:
- The coalition states to provide assistance for human and material losses, caused by the accidental fall of the bomb on the site of the claim.
- The Coalition Forces to study the reasons for the failure of the bomb to hit its target, and to take a corrective measure to prevent this from happening in the future.
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18:56 LOCAL TIME 15:56 GMT
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Joint Incidents Assessment Team Refutes Allegations against Coalition Forces 3
With regard to the statement issued on (June 16, 2020) by the Office of the United Nations Coordinator and the Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen entitled (An attack that killed at least (12) civilians, including (4) children, in (Saa'da) governorate), and that initial reports indicate that at least (12) civilians, including (4) children died, as a result of strikes to a car on (June 15, 2020), in (Shada) directorate of (Saa'da) governorate, northern Yemen. The JIAT vetted the incident, and reviewed all documents, including daily mission schedule, air tasking orders, after mission report, interviewing and listening to those concerned, surveillance and reconnaissance system video recordings, video recordings of the targeted site, summary of electronic warfare activity of wireless communications in (Saa'da) sector, Coalition Forces rules of engagement, provisions and principles of International Humanitarian Law and its customary rules, and after assessment of evidences, JIAT found that the Coalition Forces had detected radio communications in the (Saa'da) sector requesting supplies and support for ammunition and fighters.
On Monday (15/06/2020) while Coalition Forces were performing surveillance and reconnaissance operations, they identified the presence of two vehicles on an unpaved road in an uninhabited mountainous area, in the area of clashes in (Shada) district, at the western side of (Saa'da) governorate, near the international border of the Kingdome of Saudi Arabia were observed as follows:
- A vehicle (SUV) carrying two persons directing elements of Al-Houthi armed militia.
- A pick-up truck (Toyota) carrying supplies and distributing it to points where elements of Al-Houthi armed militia are stationed.
Which is considered to be a legitimate military target that the targeting of it is a tangible, direct and certain military advantage, based on article (52) of the First Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions and Rule (8) of customary International Humanitarian Law.
The Coalition Forces continued to track the (SUV) vehicle as it passed by and stopped at designated points, and met with elements of Al-Houthi armed Militia in the area of clashes.
The availability of verification by continuing to monitor the military target ((SUV) vehicle, with two elements of Al-Houthi armed militia) that contributes effectively to military operations and supports the military effort, based on rule (16) of customary International Humanitarian Law.
Coalition forces have taken possible precautions to avoid accidental loss or damage to civilian objects or to minimize them by the following:
- Using one guided bomb commensurate with the size of the military target.
- Ensuring that the place is free of civilians before and during the targeting.
At (11:55) a.m. on Monday (15/06/2020), Coalition Forces targeted (SUV) vehicle carrying two elements of the Armed Houthi militia, approximately (4.2) km from the international border of the Kingdome of Saudi Arabia using one guided bomb that hit its target. The military advantage of the targeting was achieved in accordance with article (57) of The First Additional Protocol of the Geneva Conventions and rule (17) of customary International Humanitarian Law.
After examining all the information received by the claim, and documents related to the military operation carried out, and the analysis of the surveillance and reconnaissance system video, JIAT found the following:
- Two elements of Al-Houthi armed militia in a (Toyota) pick-up truck, and two other elements of Al-Houthi armed militia in (SUV) vehicle.
- The two vehicles observed by the Coalition Forces stopped next to each other, and materials were transferred from the (Toyota) pick-up truck to the (SUV) vehicle, and placed in the back seat.
- Video recordings showed nobody in the back seat.
- The (Toyota) pick-up truck continues to distribute supplies to (fighter elements of Al-Houthi armed militia), in several locations in the area.
- Some of the fighter elements were observed coming out from under the trees, to receive supplies from the (Toyota) pick-up truck, and then return back to hide under the trees.
- Motorcycles and animals were observed, and based on intelligence reports, they are used to deliver supplies to areas were vehicles cannot reach.
- The (SUV) vehicle was observed moving between fighters of Al-Houthi armed militia, and stopping in more than one location.
- The bomb was seen hitting the moving target ((SUV) vehicle carrying two elements of Al-Houthi armed militia), directly and accurately.
By examining of the video recordings of the fighter aircraft, JIAT found the following:
- The targeting was focused in the military target ((SUV) vehicle carrying two elements of Al-Houthi armed militia) and the bomb hit its target directly and accurately.
- No civilians or other vehicles in the vicinity of the military target before and during the targeting.
- By evaluating of the after-mission report, JIAT found that the military target was received and distinguished, and that the targeting was accurate, in accordance with article (48) of the First Additional Protocol of the Geneva Conventions.
In light of that, JIAT reached the following:
- The procedures taken by Coalition Forces, in dealing with the legitimate military target ((SUV) vehicle carrying two elements of Al-Houthi armed militia) in (Shada) directorate of (Saa'da) governorate, were correct and in accordance with the International Humanitarian Law and its customary rules.
- The Coalition Forces did not target a civilian (car) carrying (12) civilians, including children, in (Shada) directorate of (Saa'da) governorate, on (15/06/2020), as claimed.
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18:57 LOCAL TIME 15:57 GMT
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Joint Incidents Assessment Team Refutes Allegations against Coalition Forces 4
With regard to the statement made by the spokesman of the Coalition Forces, that following the statement issued by the Coalition Forces Command with regard to the downing of a coalition aircraft (Tornado) in the area of operations as part of the operations to support the legitimate forces in (Al-Jawf) governorate, a search and rescue operation has been carried out at the crash site, and the possibility of collateral damage has been reported during the (search and rescue operation), and all documents relating to the possibility of accident will be forwarded to the JIAT. The letter of the Panel of Experts in Yemen regarding the incident.
The statement issued by the Office of the United Nations Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen on (February 15, 2020), entitled "strikes kill scores of civilians in Al-Jawf governorate", that preliminary field reports indicates that on (15 February, 2020) as many as (31) civilians were killed and (12) others injured, in strikes that hit (Al-Haija) area in (Al-Masloub) directorate of (Al-Jawf) governorate.
The JIAT vetted the incident, and reviewed all documents, including visits by members of JIAT to the relevant operations centers, assessment of the documents related to military operations carried out on the date of the claim, interviewing and listening to those involved in carrying out air missions, daily mission schedule, air tasking orders, after mission report, satellite and reconnaissance images of the targeted site, video recordings of the targeted site, information received from the Panel of Experts in Yemen, open sources, Coalition Forces rules of engagement, provisions and principles of International Humanitarian Law and its customary rules, and after assessment of evidences, JIAT found that on (14/02/2020) the Coalition Forces directed an air formation to the area of operations, to carry out a close air support mission (CAS) for units of the legitimate forces in an area of (ongoing clashes operations) between the legitimate forces and Al-Houthi armed militia, that area is under the control of Al-Houthi armed militia and is defended by air defenses.
While the air formation was in the area of operations in support of the legitimate forces, one of the coalition aircraft was targeted by the air defenses of Al-Houthi armed militia, the aircraft crashed in an area of ongoing operations, near the village of (Al-Haija), of the claim.
The Coalition Land Forces immediately carried out a search and rescue operation for the air crew, and were unable to approach the crash site due to clashes and the heavy presence of fighter elements of the Al-Houthi armed militia around the crash site and the whereabouts of the air crew.
After evaluating the situation and assessing the information from the legitimate forces, and ground sources about the nature of the site and the persons present around the crashed aircraft, and in view of the operational situation and what is represented by the gathering of elements of Al-Houthi armed militia around the crash site as a military action, searching for the air crew to capture them, and seeking parts of the (crashed fighter plane) and the weapons loaded on it, which is considered to be an effective contribution to military actions, making them a legitimate military targets that the targeting of them is a tangible, and direct military advantage, based on article (52) of the First Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions and Rule (8) of customary International Humanitarian Law. Due to the intense presence of elements of Al-Houthi armed militia around the crash site, the location of the air crew, the inability of land forces to approach the crash site to rescue the air crew, and the presence of an air defense (SAM) in the area, Coalition Forces have alerted an aerial formation to carry out an armed reconnaissance mission on the crash site (wreckage of the fighter plane) to search for the air crew, and deal with any developments on the ground that might arise, as soon as the aerial formation approached the crash site, they detected a radar lock on from a surface-to-air missile (SAM). The aerial formation dealt with the following events:
- At (1:17) a.m., a vehicle and a group of elements of Al-Houthi armed militia were spotted at the (wreckage of the fighter plane), recovering parts of the wreckage and loading it on a (vehicle), when they heard the sound of the aircraft, the vehicle moved from the wreckage site and was dealt with and targeted in an area free of civilian objects, while the rest of those who were present at the wreckage of the fighter plane and recovered parts of the wreckage of the aircraft and loaded it on the vehicle, have escaped and were targeted near a small traditional building.
- On Saturday afternoon (15/02/2020) the (wreckage of the fighter plane) was targeted by one guided bomb that hit its target.
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19:01 LOCAL TIME 16:01 GMT
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Joint Incidents Assessment Team Refutes Allegations against Coalition Forces 5
By studying all the information received by the claim and documents relating to the military operation carried out, JIAT found the following:
- The availability of verification through ground sources, which confirmed the presence of a gathering of elements of Al-Houthi armed militia and their vehicles, to search for the air crew to capture them, and to seek parts of the wreckage of the aircraft and the weapons loaded on them, that contributes effectively to military operations, based on rule (16) of customary International Humanitarian Law.
- Coalition forces have taken the possible precautions to avoid accidental loss or damage to civilian objects or minimize them, during the management of the military operation, by planning to use precision-guided bombs and emphasizing the absence of civilians before and during the execution of targeting operations, based on article (57) of the First Additional Protocol of the Geneva Conventions and rules (15) and (17) of customary international humanitarian law.
- Analysis of aerial photographs before and after the date of the claim for the site of the claim showed the following:
a. Aerial photographs dated (27/09/2019), prior to the date of the claim showed the existence of two small traditional buildings approximately (15) meters apart.
b. Aerial photographs dated (19/02/2020) after the date of the claim showed:
(1) Damage to one building, and no damage to the other building.
(2) Traces of air strikes on the crash site of the fighter aircraft.
- By analyzing the video recordings of the executed air mission, JIAT found the following:
a. The military target (a vehicle belonging to Al-Houthi armed militia), that was present at the crash site of the (fighter plane), was targeted in an area free of buildings and civilian objects.
b. The military target (gatherings of Al-Houthi armed militia), was targeted near a building, which is the closest target to the building of the claim.
c. The wreckage of the (fighter plane) was targeted in (Al-Masloub) directorate of (Al-Jawf) governorate.
- In light of that JIAT reached the following:
a. The procedures taken by Coalition Forces, in dealing with the legitimate military targets that were present at the wreckage of the fighter plane in the area of operations, near (Al-Haijah) village in (Al-Masloub) directorate of (Al-Jawf) governorate, were correct and in accordance with the International Humanitarian Law and its customary rules.
b. The fighter plane crashed in a place free of civilian objects.
c. JIAT believes is it likely that damage to civilians and civilian objects occurred as a result of the shooting down of the fighter plane by Al-Houthi armed militia, which caused some parts of it to fall near (Al-Haijah) village.
d. Through the evaluation and investigation JIAT found that one of the military operations carried out by the Coalition Forces caused collateral damage to a small traditional building east of the crash site, as a result of the targeting of a gathering of Al-Houthi armed militia that were seizing parts of the aircraft and loading it into a pick-up truck.
e. Due to the inability of land forces to reach and rescue the air crew, because of the clashes and the intense presence of Al-Houthi armed militia fighters around the crash site of the fighter plane and the whereabouts of the air crew, and due to the acceleration of the operational situation during the handling of military targets, where a number of vehicles and personnel are present at the wreckage of the aircraft late at night, in a military operations area free of civilian objects, loading parts of the wreckage of the aircraft, which led to the exposure of the air controller to the effects of the urgent need to take the decision to try to rescue the air crew before they were captured by Al-Houthi armed militia, and prevent them from obtaining parts of the aircraft, which caused inaccuracies by assessing the possibility of entering the non-military environment within the side effects of targeting, in accordance with the Coalition Forces rules of engagement.
JIAT recommends the following:
- Accountability of the air controller for breaching the rules of engagement of the Coalition Forces, due to the inaccuracy in the assessment of the possibility of entering the non-military environment within the side effects of targeting.
- It is appropriate for the coalition states to provide assistance for human losses and material damage due to collateral damage to the building while dealing with the legitimate military target (elements of Al-Houthi armed Militia).
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19:01 LOCAL TIME 16:01 GMT
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Joint Incidents Assessment Team Refutes Allegations against Coalition Forces 6
With regard to was received by (JIAT) about a claim that at (10:00) a.m. on (20/04/2017), the family of (M.SH.) was targeted near their house in Al-Faidh) agricultural area in (Al-Maton) district of (Al-Jawf) governorate, causing the death of (3) persons.
The JIAT vetted the incident, and reviewed all documents, including the daily mission schedule, air tasking order, after mission report, satellite images of the claim site, Coalition Forces rules of engagement, provisions and principles of International Humanitarian Law and its customary rules, and after assessment of evidences, JIAT found that on Thursday morning (20/04/2017) during a clash between legitimate forces and fighters of Al-Houthi armed militia, a unit of the Legitimate Forces requested an air support on a site where (a gathering of armed Houthi militia elements) are located, and another location where (armed vehicle) is present in (Al-Maton) district of (Al-Jawf) governorate. Therefore, at (9:00) a.m. on Thursday (20/04/2017), the Coalition Forces carried out an air mission on two military targets (a gathering of Al-Houthi armed militia elements, and an armed vehicle) in an area free of civilians, in (Al-Maton) district of (Al-Jawf) governorate, using two guided bombs that hit their targets, the nearest of the two targets was more than (2,000) meters away from location of the claimed house. By examining the air missions carried out the day before and the day after the date of the claim, JIAT found the following:
- On Wednesday (19/04/2017) the day before the date of the claim, the Coalition Forces did not carry out any air missions in (Al-Maton) district of (Al-Jawf) governorate.
- On Friday (21/04/2017) the day after the date of the claim, the Coalition Forces did not carry out any air missions in (Al-Maton) district of (Al-Jawf) governorate.
By analyzing the satellite images of the claimed building after the date of the claim, JIAT found the following:
- There were no damages resulting from air strikes on the (building) in claim.
- There was no damage caused by air strikes around the area of the building in claim.
In light of that, JIAT found that Coalition Forces did not target the family of (M.SH.) near their house on (20/04/2017), in (Al-Maton) district of (Al-Jawf) governorate as claimed.
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19:03 LOCAL TIME 16:03 GMT
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