GENEVA - The United Nations human rights office reports that Saudi-led coalition airstrikes have killed at least 136 Yemeni civilians and injured 86 over the past two weeks.
This surge in civilian casualties follows the killing of former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh in the capital of Sana’a early this month. Saleh was killed by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels angry at his peace overtures to Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia's counter attack has been relentless. U.N. human rights spokesman Rupert Colville says in the period from December 6 to 16, the Saudi-led coalition has carried out numerous airstrikes against Houthi targets.
These include a TV channel, a hospital and a prison compound packed with detainees. In one incident, he says a woman and her nine children returning home from a wedding party were killed in a coalition airstrike.
“We urge all parties to the conflict to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law, including their obligation to respect the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution," said Colville. "They should take all feasible precautions to avoid, and in any event to minimize, the impact of violence on civilians.”
Colville says there have been so many incidents of this kind involving civilians in Yemen it would be hard to conclude that war crimes have not taken place.
He says his office also is concerned about reported violations by Houthis against members of former President Saleh’s political party, the General People’s Congress, including attacks and arbitrary detentions.
Houthi rebels on Tuesday reportedly fired a ballistic missile near the Saudi capital, Riyadh, which was intercepted by the Saudi-led coalition. No casualties have been reported.