True||The U.S. military signaled Tuesday it would continue its assistance to the Arab coalition fighting in Yemen, even as it acknowledged support was not “unconditional” amid concern about the war’s toll on civilians.||
WASHINGTON/SANAA: The U.S. military signaled Tuesday it would continue its assistance to the Arab coalition fighting in Yemen, even as it acknowledged support was not “unconditional” amid concern about the war’s toll on civilians. The coalition is trying to restore the internationally recognized government of Yemeni President Abed Rabbou Mansour Hadi, ousted by the Iran-aligned Houthis in 2015.
The United States and other Western powers provide arms and intelligence to the alliance. Human rights groups have criticized them over coalition airstrikes that have killed hundreds of civilians at hospitals, schools and markets.
A coalition airstrike that hit a bus earlier this month killed 40 children, sparking outrage from U.N. officials. Saudi Arabia has said it will investigate the attack.
Mattis dispatched a three-star general to Saudi Arabia after that incident, and told reporters Tuesday the U.S. recognized such mistakes were tragic. But he added: “We haven’t seen any callous disregard by the people we’re working with.”
“So, we will continue to work with them, reduce this tragedy.”
In Geneva, U.N. human rights experts said Tuesday that airstrikes by the coalition in the war have caused civilian casualties and that some may amount to war crimes.
Coalition forces have imposed severe restrictions on Red Sea ports and Sanaa airport, depriving Yemenis of vital supplies, which may also constitute international crimes, the experts said. The coalition said it had referred the U.N. report to its legal team for review.
“The Coalition will take an appropriate position on this matter and make an announcement about it once the legal team submits its observations,” it said in a statement.
United Arab Emirates Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said the report merited a reply but the region needed to be preserved from “Iranian encroachment.”
The experts’ panel also said fighters of the Houthi movement had fired missiles into Saudi Arabia and shelled the Yemeni city of Taiz.
“Our conduct there is to try to keep the human cost of innocents being killed accidentally to the absolute minimum. That is our goal where we engage with the coalition,” Mattis said.“Our goal is to reduce this tragedy and to get it to the U.N.- brokered table as quickly as possible.”
Meanwhile, heavy airstrikes targeted the Sanaa International Airport, which is closed except for occasional U.N. flights, and Al-Delmi air base north of the rebel-held capital Sanaa early Tuesday, residents and the rebel group said.
The strikes came hours after the Houthis said they had targeted Dubai airport with a drone attack, which was denied by a leading member of the coalition.