Joint Incidents Assessment Team (JIAT) on Yemen Responds to Claims on Coalition Forces' Violations in Decisive Storm Operations

Friday 1437/11/2 - 2016/08/05
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Riyadh, Dhu-AlQa'dah 1, 1437, Aug 4, 2016, SPA -- In response to claims that the Coalition Forces have committed violations while conducting the Decisive Storm and the Hope Restoration military operations to support the legitimate government of Yemen, an independent Joint Incidents Assessment Team (JIAT) was formed to assess these claims and accidents. The JIAT consists of 14 members with experience and competence in military and legal fields. The members of the JIAT are from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the Republic of Yemen, Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.
The JIAT investigated these claims after preparing an internal duty regulation governing its work, which includes customary procedures for assessing accidents occurring in such operations. The JIAT depended on the customary procedures for investigating the facts and collecting evidence, proofs and documents and lists of targets. It also depended on the international humanitarian law, the international norms, the rules of engagement, accident evaluation, and target mechanism. The JIAT also summoned whoever it considers to hear their statements. The JIAT exercised its full independence and impartiality.
The JIAT's Legal Advisor Lieutenant General Mansour Ahmed Al-Mansour from the Kingdom of Bahrain said in a news briefing held today at King Salman Air Base at the Central Sector that the JIAT's work in assessing the accidents depends on ensuring the legal aspects of target operations that are compatible with the international law, and on using the American and British mechanism to assess accidents in addition to the law of armed conflict. The JIAT prepares a report for each individual case, including the facts, circumstances surrounding each accident, backgrounds, timings, lessons learned, recommendations and future actions to be taken. For this purpose, the JIAT depended on analyzing the information contained in the task report, reviewing the aerial photographs from the post-mission aircraft reports, recording videos, scheduling daily tasks and reporting to the JIAT's air control officer.

The JIAT's Media Spokesman said "The JIAT started assessing a number of accidents claimed to be done by coalition forces and reached a number of reports for some of the claims as follows:
1- Human Rights Watch claimed that the coalition forces bombed a residential complex in Mokha Directorate on 24/07/2015. After reviewing the facts, the JIAT found that intelligence information was available stating the presence of four targets in the areas controlled by armed Houthi militia and the forces of the former president. These targets included coastal defense missiles that constitute an immediate threat to naval vessels of the coalition forces present near the coast and to the safety of maritime navigation in the Red Sea. The JIAT also found that the objective was a residential complex partly affected by unintentional bombing, based on inaccurate intelligence information. therefore, the JIAT recommended providing compensation to the families of the victims after they submit their official and documented claims to the Reparations Committee.
2- Medecins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) claimed that the Haydan Hospital in Saada governorate was targeted by aerial bombardment on 26/01/2015. The JIAT found that the targeting was based on solid intelligence information received by the coalition forces about the presence of military target (gathering of Houthi armed militia) in Haydan Directorate. After verification, it became clear that the building was a medical facility used by Houthi armed militia as a military shelter in violation of the rules of international humanitarian law. However, there was no human damage as a result of the bombing. Despite the coalition forces bombed the medical facility as a military target, it was imperative to notify the MSF about withdrawing the international protection from this building before carrying out the bombing.
3- Medecins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) claimed that a mobile clinic in Taiz province exposed to side effects of bombing by the coalition forces on 02/12/2015. The JIAT found that armed groupings belonging to Houthi militia were targeted in Taiz province which is a high-value military target and achieves military advantage as a legitimate target. This was based on a request by the Yemeni forces loyal to the legitimate government as well as the popular resistance located in Hoban, Taiz Province. The mobile clinic was not directly bombed, but was accidentally affected by the bombing due to its close location to the grouping which was targeted without causing any human damage. It is necessary to keep the mobile clinic away from military targets so as not to be subjected to any incidental effects. Therefore, it becomes clear the soundness of the measures taken by the Coalition Forces in accordance with the international laws.

4- The Secretary-General of the United Nations claimed killing of as many as 32 and injury of another 41 civilians, in a traditional market, at the district of Nahm, in the governorate of Sana'a on 27/2/2016, but it was clear to the JIAT, following facts finding, that one of the Coalition aircraft which was embarking in an important air back-up operation, near to the Popular Resistance and the army loyal to the legitimate government, it monitored two transport vehicles full of personnel, ammunition and weapons belonging to the militia's of al-Houthi, situating near a small natives' market adjacent to a small buildings and tents, on a road linking Nahm district to the capital Sanaa, henceforth, it was swiftly dealt with these military targets, which is considered a valuable and highly effective and a legitimate target that secures a military advantage, by dropping a an accurate laser-guided bomb, noting that these gatherings were deployed in an uninhabited desert area, under the control of al-Houthi armed militias, which was a supply and provision point, as it was evidenced by important recordings indicted the presence of only 7 persons, at the site, a fact that confounds the fall of as many as 73 civilians, either dead or injured.
The JIAT found that there were no fault done by the coalition forces of targeting civilians, in commitment to the rules of international humanitarian law, and in particular,
there were no direct attacks on civilians.
5- The UN News Center claimed that the coalition forces have bombed the market of (KhamisMastaba), in the District of Hajjah on 15.3.2016 and the allegation of causing the death of some 106 civilians. We want to make clear, that it has been bombed as a target, based on solid intelligence asserting that a large gathering of Houthi armed militia (recruits), and that the gatherings were near a weekly market, which does not have any activity except on Thursdays of each week, knowing that the operation has taken place on Tuesday, as it was a legitimate military target and has a high value and achieve military advantage of being just 34 km from the border with Saudi Arabia, a fact that threatens troops stationed on the border. Moreover, the prosecution did not provide proof of the claims that civilian casualties, and the JIAT found no proof of any fault made by the coalition forces, in the process, and that the Coalition forces have abided by the rules of international humanitarian law.
6- The stated claim by the Special Prosecutor on extrajudicial cases or summary executions and arbitrary executions, with respect to an air strike resulted in the death of 47 civilians and injuring, at least 58, including women and children, during a wedding on 6/10 / 2015, in the province of Dhama, and by reference to the records relating to air sorties it has been concluded that there were no bombing of any target in the province Damar, related to date of the claim, but the evaluation JIAT, based on the importance of ensuring the prosecution, humanly and in anticipation of a probable mistake in the date of the allegation, a discuss on air operations targeted the same area on dates close to it, we depicted an air strike on 07/10/2015 on the road of Dhamar - Radaa - al-baidah) where a gathering of armed vehicles on the same road, on a precisely specified coordinates on the asphalt road, and it appeared that there was no targeting of civilians, in the same area, and it has been concluded by the JIAT the safety of the measurement applied coalition forces and its commitment to the rules of international humanitarian law.

7- President of the World Food Programme claimed that four trucks affiliated to the World Food Programme carrying food stuffs were exposed to bombing on 9/11/2015 at 10:00 pm in Hreib Directorate at Marib Governorate. This bombing has resulted in injuring 4 drivers and total destruction of two trucks and partial destruction of the other two trucks. Reviewing the facts, the JIAT found that the trucks were targeted based on intelligence information that trucks affiliated to Houthi armed militia and the forces of former President were carrying missiles to target the positions of coalition forces' and resistance loyal to the legitimate government in MaribProvince and presents an immediate threat, which is a key supply region for Houthi armed militia. In light of what has been reviewed of facts and evidence, the JIAT found that these trucks are a convoy of WFP and that the coalition forces were not aware of the timings and locations of the WFP convoy. The officials supervising this program did not provide the coalition forces with memorandum showing the dates and timings of the movement of the convoy (trucks), which is a breach of the international conventions. The JIAT also found that the trucks did not use international protection signs on the trucks. The JIAT also found that the targeting was because of the lack of direct coordination between organization and the relevant authorities at the coalition forces command.
8- MSF claimed that the surroundings of Republican Hospital in Saada, on 23/1/2016, exposed to the blowing out the fragments as a result of an air strikes, and following checking the facts, the JIAT found that the command of the coalition forces targeted in the same area, a number of warehouses containing weapons and munitions used by the armed militias of al-Houthi and laser-guided bombs (with accurate targeting) to targets 1300 mete away, and there was no direct targeting of the said hospital or civilians located around the warehouse, a fact that enhances this aerial photographs relating to this operation, which turns out not to show that no buildings or civilians, in the neighboring nearby warehouse, which have been affected by any damage, neither directly nor indirectly. The Coalition Forces were aware of the presence of the Republican Hospital in that region as it is one of the prohibited target because it is a medical facility protected under international conventions. Therefore, it is required to be avoid targeting such places when preparing and planning for any military operation. It became clear to the JIAT that there was no mistake by the coalition forces in this operation and they were committed to the rules of international and humanitarian law which includes the protection for medical facilities.
The JIAT's Legal Advisor concluded the statement stressing the JIAT's continuation to carry out its tasks, commit to independence, and publically announce the results reached by the JIAT upon the completion of verification procedures.