Coalition command in Yemen: Statement on operations

Friday 1437/8/20 - 2016/05/27
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Riyadh, Sha'ban 20, 1437, May 27, 2016, SPA -- The military coalition of Arab countries undertaking operation in Yemen has issued the following statement on its operations.
The countries in the Arab Coalition share responsibility for the defence of the Yemeni people and their legitimate government.
The Houthi militia and the former president of Yemen launchedaggressive military operations against Yemen and its people. They have attacked the safety and security of the country and its population, threatened the security of neighbouring countries, and endangered regional and international peace and security.
Coalition forces intervened in Yemen in response to a direct request from the legitimate president of Yemen and with the full support of the United Nations Security Council. They did so to ensure peace and security in Yemen and in their own self-defence.
Coalition forces in Yemen have fully complied with international humanitarian law and international human rights law in their military operations. They are committed to their duty to protectcivilians from the impact of the conflict.
Coalition forces operate according to strict rules of engagement and according to the following key principles:
Mechanisms and procedures of targeting
1. Coalition forces have a robust process to ensure all targets are genuinely military. All targeting relies on multiple sources. All sites are assumed to be civilian until they are proven to be military.
2. Coalition forces continually developand update a list of sites that may not be targeted. These include:sites with a civilian presence, places of worship, diplomatic sites, international governmental premises, non-governmental organization premises, and cultural sites. Updated lists of prohibited sites are circulated to all coalition forces.
3. Legal advisers are embedded in planning and targeting teams. They will not approve targets unless they are sure that they are legitimate under international law.
4. Coalition forces use precise, guided weapons.
5. Wherever possible, coalition forces issue advance warnings before attacking military targets to ensure civilians are not in their vicinity.
6. Coalition forces constantly develop their targeting processes, in particular through:
·Constant development of the capabilities of targeting specialists, for example through specialised courses at international centers including the San Remo Institute for International Humanitarian Law, and through collaboration with friendly countries with targeting expertise.
·Applying additional review procedures when selecting targets to assure they are legitimate.
·Deploying front line observers to ensure there are no civilians in the vicinity of targets.
Assessment and investigation
The coalition implements the following assessment and investigation procedures after air strikes:
1. After each air strike a review and analysis is carried out based on operation records and reports from army units at the site to assess the success of the targeting operation and whether collateral damage has occurred
2. An initial rapid assessment is undertaken to inform immediate upcoming operations to avoid the repeat of any errors
3. Any air strike that has resulted in avoidable collateral damage is referred to the internal accident investigation team
4. Where claims about targeting of civilians, civilian facilities or NGO operations are made, investigations are conducted by a separate and distinct investigation team established at Coalition Air Force HQ. It has the following procedures:
·It collates target lists from the areas where claims are made.
·It compiles mission reports from the planes involved in the air strikes and the forward air controller.
·It accesses recordings from sorties over the claim area.
Once the investigations are complete, the following procedures are taken:
·Results of the investigations are declared.
·Compensation for the victims of collateral damage is pledged
·Recommendations are made to avoid the repeat of such incidents, including improvements in targeting procedures.
·Action is taken against any Coalition operative who has deliberately disobeyed the rules of engagement.
Since the Coalition started its operations in Yemen, it has sought to limit the humanitarian cost. It has established evacuation and humanitarian teams which co-ordinate with international relief organisations to limit the suffering of civilians and help ensure the supply of food and medical materials.
On over 3,000 occasions since the start of the military operation up until March 2016,the Coalition has co-ordinatedthe evacuation of civilians or taken actions to protect international relief organisations’ operations from military strikes.
--SPA
01:13 LOCAL TIME 22:13 GMT