Feb 16, 2020 14:58 UTC
  • Iran: Saudi airstrike on Yemenis near downed jet 'a war crime'

Iran has denounced the international community's silence on Saudi airstrikes, the latest of which killed at least 31 civilians in Yemen's al-Jawf province Friday, calling it a war crime.

“The international community’s silence on these war crimes has emboldened their perpetrators to kill more civilians," Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said in Tehran on Sunday, Press TV reported.

The United Nations office in Yemen said preliminary field reports indicated that "as many as 31 civilians were killed and 12 others injured in strikes that hit al-Hayjah area" in al-Jawf province.

The health ministry in al-Jawf province said women and children were among those killed, Yemen's al-Masirah TV reported. They had gathered near the wreckage of a Saudi warplane shot down on Friday evening when the airstrikes took place.

Mousavi strongly condemned "the criminal attack by the Saudi-led coalition forces and offered commiserations to the bereaved families and the oppressed Yemeni people," IRNA news agency reported.

“Over the past several years, we have repeatedly witnessed that whenever Saudi-led coalition forces or their allies suffer humiliating defeats in the battlefield, they react by cowardly slaughtering of women, children and civilians with American weapons and create a disaster,” Mousavi said.

"Yesterday's crime in Jawf province is an example of dozens of their war crimes," he added.

Yemeni forces said they shot down the warplane with an advanced surface-to-air missile.

Saudi warplanes later targeted people who had gathered near the wreckage of the jet. Officials said aid workers could not reach the site of the attack due to continuous flights by Saudi warplanes over the area.

"As usual, when the most brutal US-Saudi aggression receives painful strikes in the military confrontation fields, it replies with great folly by targeting civilians,” spokesman for Yemeni armed forces Yahya Sare'e said on Saturday.

UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen Lise Grande also denounced the "terrible strikes" in al-Jawf province.

"So many people are being killed in Yemen - it's a tragedy and it's unjustified. Under international humanitarian law parties which resort to force are obligated to protect civilians," she said.

"Five years into this conflict and belligerents are still failing to uphold this responsibility. It's shocking," she added.

International aid group Save the Children also condemned the Saudi airstrikes, saying they showed that the Yemen conflict was "not slowing down."

"This latest attack must be urgently and independently investigated, and perpetrators held to account," said Xavier Joubert, the group's country director in Yemen.

"Those who continue to sell arms to the warring parties must realize that by supplying weapons for this war, they contribute to making atrocities like today's all too common."

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