UK minister brands Saudi attack on Yemeni funeral ‘deliberate error’
The British minister for the Middle East says the early October attack by Saudi forces on a funeral in Yemen was a “deliberate error.”
More than 140 people were killed and over 525 wounded on October 8, when a Saudi air raid hit a community hall in the south of the capital Sana’a, where a funeral for the father of Interior Minister Jalal al-Roweishan was being held.
Tobias Ellwood, the British minister for the Middle East, revealed Wednesday that the Saudi monarchy actually ordered the attack, which drew global condemnation.
“It was a deliberate error made by an individual who needs to be disciplined,” he said. “There was a choice made to breach operation procedures, Riyadh said, ‘no this attack should not take place.”
Saudi Arabia initially denied responsibility for the fatal attack but on Saturday it finally admitted that the attack was launched by one of it warplanes, which “wrongly targeted” the funeral gathering.
“It did take place and that’s why this report, which is coming out with more details, will actually clarify what’s going to happen,” said the minister.
Ellwood also touched upon the controversial issue of British arms sales to the monarchy, calling the move a “legitimate” one.
“We do sell arms to Saudi Arabia, this is a legitimate war that’s taking place, endorsed by the UN resolution 2216,” he said. “It’s important to recognize that Saudi Arabians have made mistakes, but they have also put their hand up to it.”
The minister visited the Saudi capital Riyadh last week to tell the royal family that “they need to come out with a report immediately, they did that, it was released on the weekend and they put their hand up and said this was a gross breach of standard operating procedure.”
“Somebody will now fall on their sword. We have disciplinary actions taking place, we also now have compensation coming to the victims,” he announced.
The Saudi military campaign, which started in March 2015, has killed at least 10,100 people.
The United Nations Special Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed announced a truce in the war-ravaged country on Monday, saying it would take effect at 23:59 local time on Wednesday.