UK Reveals It’s Helping Saudi-Led Yemen Campaign
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - British troops are helping identify targets for an Arab-led military campaign in Yemen and claim they haven’t found any “deliberate” breaches of humanitarian law, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said.
Britain’s support for the coalition strikes has been criticized by human rights groups, who blame Saudi Arabia for bombing civilians in its campaign against Houthis involved in Yemen’s civil war. The British government hasn’t disclosed details of the UK military involvement.
Mostly Persian Gulf Arab forces intervened in a civil war in Yemen on March 26 after the Houthis ousted fugitive former President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi in a revolution against corrupt officials beholden to Saudi Arabia and the West. The UN estimates nearly 2,800 civilians have been killed in the fighting since March.
UN spokesman Ahmad Fawzi said Tuesday the resumption of Yemen peace talks won’t take place this week as originally hoped, following renewed fighting and airstrikes by the coalition, the Associated Press reported.
Yemen envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed wants the talks to resume in the region but is facing delays in his efforts to broker an agreement on a location, Fawzi told reporters.
In London, meanwhile, Hammond told lawmakers in the House of Commons that “I can’t tell you whether it is six people, but we do have a military presence in Saudi Arabia and we are working with the Saudi Arabians to ensure the following of correct procedures to avoid breaches of international humanitarian law.”
“That is to ensure that target sets are correctly identified, that processes are correctly followed to ensure that only targets that are legitimate military targets are struck,” Hammond said.
He said there had been “no evidence of deliberate breach of international humanitarian law.”
Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has accused Saudi Arabia of bombing two of its hospitals in Yemen. Hilary Benn, foreign affairs spokesman for the opposition Labour Party, called for an “immediate review” of British arms exports licenses to Saudi Arabia in the wake of the reported strikes on hospitals.
Hammond said Britain had “a very robust export licensing process.” Saud Arabia is the world’s biggest buyer of British weapons.