Riyadh - SPA
JIAT Official Spokesman Holds Press Conference

The Official Spokesman of the Joint Incidents Assessment Team (JIAT) in Yemen, Legal Counsellor Mansour Al-Mansour, held here today a press conference disclosing results reached by JIAT regarding four allegations reported by international organizations.

With regard to the report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights dated 13/9/2017, that on 5/4/2107 four fishermen were killed when their boat was attacked by a Helicopter off Al-Hudaydah coast, on the same day, another fishing boat was destroyed by a helicopter attack in the same area, no casualties were reported as those who were on board jumped when the attack began. JIAT vetted the incident, reviewed all documents, including a review of the documents relating to operations carried out by the Coalition Forces (Army Aviation, Air Force, Navy Force) on the date of the claim, daily missions schedule, logistic records, rules of engagement of the Coalition Forces, the principles and provisions of International Humanitarian Law and its customary rules, and after the assessment of evidences, JIAT found the following:

1- On Wednesday 05/4/2017, Coalition Forces did not carry out any military operations and did not target any boats off Al-Hudaydah coast, the nearest Coalition Forces ship was (74) Nautical Miles from the port of Al-Hudaydah.

2- On 04/04/2017, one day prior to the day of the claim, an unarmed reconnaissance helicopter attached to a Coalition Forces ship carried out a training mission at 2:45 pm within the vicinity of the ship which was approximately 75 Nautical Miles from Al-Hudaydah cost, and landed at 3:45 pm, and did not engage any target.

3- On Thursday 06/4/2017, one day after the day of the claim, Coalition Forces did not carry out any military operations off Al-Hudaydah coast, and did not target any boats.

In light of that, JIAT found that Coalition forces did not target two fishing boats off Al-Hudaydah coast as reported by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

With regard to the National Commission of Inquiry into the allegations of violations of human rights in Yemen dated 06/01/2019, that the Coalition aircraft attacked Al-Qaidah security department on 20/09/2015 at 8:30 am in the city of Al-Qa'idah, an hour later when a number of people arrived to rescue the wounded, the aerial attack resumed, killing 7 civilians and injuring 3 other civilian rescuers and pedestrians. JIAT vetted the incident, reviewed all documents including the Air Tasking Order, mission execution procedures, daily mission schedule, after-mission reports, satellite images of the targeted site, rules of engagement of the Coalition Forces, International Humanitarian Law and its customary rules, and after the assessment of evidences, it was found that the Coalition Forces received an intelligence information from several highly credible sources, that Al-Houthi armed militia seized Al-Qaidah Security Department located at the Thalatheen street in Al-Qaidah city in Ibb Governorate, and using it as armouries to support the military effort , which becomes a legitimate military target whose destruction would result in a military advantage, in accordance with article 52, paragraph 2, of the Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions.

With the confirmation of credible intelligence information, in accordance with customary law No. 16 of customary International Humanitarian Law. It was confirmed that Al-Houthi armed militia had seized the building, and used it as armouries to support the military effort of Al-Houthi armed militia, therefore it lost the legal protection of civilian objects, and considered to be a legitimate military target that the destruction of it achieve a military advantage, in accordance with Article 52 paragraph 3 of the Additional Protocol I of the Geneva Conventions.

On Sunday 20/9/2105 at 8:20 am, the Coalition Forces carried out an air mission on a military target, a building armouries, using two guided bombs that hit its target. After reviewing the daily mission schedule, and after-mission reports, JIAT found that the targeting was carried out on one mission only and on one specific location with two consecutive bombs that hit their targets directly, JIAT found no evidence that the Coalition Forces had resumed targeting one hour later as claimed.

JIAT found out after studying the satellite images that there were no collateral damage outside the target location as a result of the targeting, because Coalition Forces took the feasible precautions in terms of the type and size of the bombs used in the legitimate targeting, in accordance with Article 57 paragraph 1, of the Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions and customary rules 15 and 17.

In light of that, JIAT found the procedures followed by the Coalition Forces in dealing with the legitimate military target armouries in Al-Qa'ida Security Building were correct and in accordance with the International Humanitarian Law and its customary rules.

With regard to the letter from the Regional Director for East Africa to the Coalition Forces Spokesperson on 14 June 2018, which states that at 9:30 pm on 05 June 2018, an air strike was carried out on a building in the Haddah area of the capital Sana'a, about 80 meters from the residence of the Norwegian Refugee Council staff, injuring 7 civilians. The explosion caused structural damage to the windows and walls of the residence of the Norwegian Council staff. JIAT vetted the incident, reviewed all documents, including the Air Tasking Order, mission execution procedures, daily mission schedule, after-mission reports, satellite images of the targeted site, video recordings of the mission, rules of engagement of the Coalition Forces, International Humanitarian Law and its customary rules, and after the assessment of evidences, it was found that based on highly credible intelligence information received by the Coalition Forces, about the presence of a prominent leaders of Al-Houthi armed militia in a specific building in Haddah area in the capital Sana'a, which is a legitimate military target whose destruction would result in a military advantage, in accordance with article 52, paragraph 2, of the Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions, as well as the verification of intelligence information, in accordance with customary law No. 16 of customary International Humanitarian Law, the Building had lost the protection of the civilian objects for the presence of prominent leaders of Al-Houthi armed militia, in accordance with Article 52 paragraph 3 of the Additional Protocol I of the Geneva Conventions.

Coalition Forces carried out an air mission on Tuesday 05/06/2018 at 9:00 pm, on a target prominent Houthi leaders in a building located on a specific location in the Haddah area of the capital Sana'a, using two guided bombs that hit its target.

After examining the intelligence and operational procedures of the executed mission, the satellite imagery, and the video recordings of the mission, JIAT found the following:

1- The residence of the Norwegian Council staff is on the No Strike List (NSL) of the Coalition Forces, and is 80 meters away from the specific targeting location, and was part of the Coalition Forces considerations during the planning and implementation phases of the mission.

2- The planners of the operation avoided targeting the facilities of the military target, and identify the exact point of targeting to achieve the desired military advantage of the mission, and to ensure the safety of the buildings surrounding the target.

3- The use of sophisticated guided bombs by the Coalition Force, to avoid any collateral damage resulting from the targeting, in accordance with Article 57, paragraph 1, of the Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions and customary rules 15 and 17.

4- The target area was confirmed to be free of civilian or civilian vehicles before and during the targeting.

5- After studying and analyzing the satellite images, JIAT found the following:

A. The existence of targeting traces on the legitimate military target building, but the adjacent facilities were not affected.

B. No damage to the outer wall surrounding the building.

C. No visible structural damage to the Norwegian Council staff residence, nor to the buildings near the military target.

D. JIAT believe it is likely that the residence of Norwegian Council staff suffers from the blast as a result of targeting the legitimate military target.

In light of that, JIAT concluded that the actions taken by the Coalition Forces in dealing with the legitimate military target prominent Houthi leaders in a building in Haddah area south of the capital Sana'a, were correct and in accordance with the International Humanitarian Law and its customary rules, JIAT also sees that it is appropriate to provide assistance to the Norwegian Council staff residence for the collateral damage as per the claim.

With regard to the statement of the Coalition spokesman, that the Coalition Forces forwarded the results of a targeting operations gather of the Al-Huthi armed militia elements in Kitaf area in Saada province, within a military operations zone, to JIAT for the probability of accidental incident. The United States State Department spokesman said that a transparent investigation into the bombing of a hospital in Yemen should be conducted, and we learned that the Coalition Forces had referred the incident to JIAT for review and investigation. Also the statement issued by Save the Children Fund, that on Tuesday March 26th 2019, a rocket hits a petrol station near the entrance of Kitaf rural hospital, about 100 km from the town of Saada In Yemen, all parties were obliged not to target and avoid the hospital by a radius of 110 yards, and called on to conduct an immediate and credible investigation. JIAT vetted the incident and, reviewed all documents, including interviewing and listening to the statements of those involved in the military operation carried out, and after studying the air tasking order, daily mission schedule, after mission reports, satellite images of the target site, video recording of the tasked and supporting flights, video recording of the surveillance system, rules of engagements of the Coalition Forces, the principles and provisions of International Humanitarian Law and its customary rules, and after the assessment of evidences, JIAT found that, based on an intelligence information received by the Coalition Forces about weapons, ammunition, and combat elements of Al-Houthi armed militia to support Al-Huthi armed militia to attack the legitimate Yemeni forces in the area of operations in the Kitaf axis, which is moving towards the village of Kitaf to free it from the grip of Al-Houthi armed militia, and near the axis of progress of the legitimate forces, which is witnessing combat confrontations with light and heavy weapons.

On the basis of this information, a surveillance operation was carried out on Tuesday 26/03/2019, which spotted an intensive activity of vehicles, motorcycles and fighters of Al-Houthi armed militia northeast of the village of Kitaf in Saada governorate including a vehicle carrying weapons, ammunition and combat elements. The vehicle stopped under a tree in a location that is about 430 meters from the hospital, Coalition Forces examined the Collateral Damage Estimation CDE, the military target was approximately 430 meters from the site of the hospital, which is on the No Strike List (NSL) of the Coalition Forces, the distance between them does not affect that protected location, the tasked flight had experienced a defect in the Laser Designation Pod (LDP) just before the implementation of the targeting operation, which required a support aircraft to guide the bomb to the target, meanwhile the military target a vehicle carrying Weapons, ammunition and combat elements of Al-Houthi armed militia moved from its location and stopped next to another armed vehicle carrying 10 fighter elements, the two vehicles then moved to another location a building used by the Houthi as a distribution and supply point known to the Coalition Forces and previously included in the observation and reconnaissance list, when the supporting aircraft arrived at the site to support the operation by guiding the bomb, the two vehicle moved away from the building, distribution and supply point, one of them was parked near a building in the village of Kitaf, the other vehicle went into hiding under a tree, the fighters on board left the vehicle and hid under another tree that was about 125 meters away from the hospital, the moving target which hid under the trees in the latest location, was re-evaluated, however the fierce clashes between the legitimate forces and the Al-Huthi armed militia in the area of operations, and the continued military necessity, hastened the work procedures to ensure that the military advantage is not lost, which result in imprecision evaluation of the likely hood that the none military surrounding could be inside the effect of the targeting.

JIAT through the study of the after-mission report, the analysis of satellite and intelligence images, and the open source of the Coalition Force's target location, found that a support aircraft was used to guide the bomb from the other fighter aircraft to the specific military target using one guided bomb, a malfunction in the bomb caused it to fall about 100 meters away from the military target, causing damage to an entrance and a small building inside the hospital wall of the claim, and the destruction of a gas station.

The video of the fighter aircraft confirmed the precise aiming on the military target Al-Houthi armed militia hiding under a tree, and showed that the bomb had been diverted and dropped at another location approximately 100 meters from the designated military target.

The video of the aircraft that guided the laser bomb showed that the targeting was aimed at the military target Al-Huthi armed militia hiding under a tree in a building-free area, laser guidance continued on the specific military target until the bomb impact, which was drifted about 100 meters away from the designated military target, an explosion was seen north of the military target near Kitaf hospital, which confirms the bomb malfunction.

In light of that, JIAT reached the following:

A. The validity of what was referred to JIAT by the Coalition Forces for collateral damage as a result of an accidental incident during a targeting operation, in the area of operations northeast of the village of Kitaf in Saada governorate on 26/03/2019.

B. Kitaf rural hospital the place of the claim is on the NO Strike List (NSL) of the Coalition Forces.

C. The availability of intelligence information about a military, enforcements (weapons, munitions, and Al-Houthi armed militias) to support the Al-Huthi armed militia in the attack on Yemeni legitimate forces in the area of operations the Kitaf axis, which is considered to be a legitimate military target whose destruction achieves a military advantage based on Article 52 Paragraph 2 of Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions.

D. Verification degree is achieved by executing (monitoring and surveillance) operation by the surveillance system, which discovered two vehicles carrying weapons, ammunition, and combat elements of Al-Houthi armed militia, based on customary rule No. 16.

E. The legal protection of the civilian objects (a vehicle carrying weapons, ammunition, and combat elements) of the Al-Houthi armed militia was lost, due to the use of it to support the war effort, in accordance with article 52 (3) of Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions.

F. The bomb drifted away and fell about 100 meters from the location of the specific military target, due to a technical defect in the bomb.

G. The validity of the actions taken by the Coalition Forces in dealing with the legitimate military target, in accordance with the International Humanitarian Law and its customary rules.

H. The mission commander hastened the work procedures to ensure that the military advantage is not lost, which resulted in inaccuracies in the assessment of the possibility of entering the non-military environment within the side effects of targeting.

I. The commander of the mission did not request a re-targeting despite the lack of achieving the military advantage due to the deviation of the bomb, and its fall in another location due to a defect, in order to protect the safety of civilians and civilian objects.

JIAT recommends the following:

A. The Coalition Forces to study the reasons for the failure of the bomb to hit its target, and to take a corrective measures to prevent this from happening in the future.

B. Accountability of the Task Commander for breaching the rules of engagement of the Coalition Forces, due to the inaccuracy in the assessment of the possibility of entering the non-military environment within the side effects of targeting.

C. It is appropriate for Coalition states to provide assistance as a result of an accidental incident during the targeting of a legitimate military target, resulting in human and material damage caused by the deviation of the bomb.

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