SAADA, Yemen (Reuters) – Thousands of children buried on Monday buried dozens of children killed in a coalition attack led by Saudi Arabia on a bus in northern Yemen, one of the most deadly attacks on civilians in a three-year war.
The boys demonstrate outside the United Nations offices in Sanaa, Yemen, to condemn the air strikes of recent weeks, which killed dozens, including children in the north-western province of Sa'ada, on August 13, 2018. REUTERS / Khaled Abdullah
At least 40 children were killed during a raid on Thursday, which hit the bus when he drove through the Dahyan market, a city in Sa'ada, an armed group of Houti that controls the province.
In the face of outrage from international human rights groups and US officials, Riyadh continued to defend the raid as a "legitimate military action" aimed at hitting the leaders of Houti, the day after he authorized the coalition investigation of the strike.
Wooden coffins, most of them with the image of a child, were taken by cars and delivered to the cemetery from the square where prayers had been held earlier. "Death to America, death for Israel," the crowd chanted, repeating the slogan "Hutis".
The enveloped bodies were removed from the coffins and placed in a row of unmarked graves that were dug on Friday.
"My son went to the market to perform errands at home, and then an air strike struck the enemy, and he was struck by shrapnel and died," said Fares al-Razhi, mourning his 14-year-old son.
"For my son, I will avenge Salman and Muhammad bin Zayed," he said, referring to the leaders of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The Arab states of the Persian Gulf lead the union of the Sunni Muslim countries that intervened in the Yemeni war in 2015 to try to restore the internationally recognized government, which in 2014 was expelled from the capital by Sanaa Gautis.
The coalition said Friday that it will investigate the strike after US Secretary of State Antonio Guterres condemned the attack and called for an independent investigation.
But on Saturday, the state news agency SPA reported that the mission of Riyadh to the World Body submitted a message to Guterris, in which it was confirmed that the raid was "legal" and aimed the leaders of "Haute" to "recruit and educate young children."
"War can not be a pure operation, unfortunately," the state foreign minister of the UAE, Anwar Gargash, told reporters in Dubai when he was asked about Saada's attack. "But I will say that all parties need to take part in what they are doing today."
First, the coalition said after the attack that the strike aimed at the missile launchers that Houthis used to attack the southern Saudi province of Jizan.
Health Minister Hautis Taha Mutawakil said last week that the death toll was 51, including 40 children, and at least 79 people were injured, 56 of whom were children. The International Committee of the Red Cross reported this on Friday, referring to the authorities in Sa'ada.
On Monday in Houthi-run al-Masirah TV, it was reported that another child died from wounds, increasing the number of victims to 52.
The head of the Houthis Supreme Revolutionary Committee, Mohammed Ali al-Hatti, attended the funeral and accused the United States of "this ugly slaughter of Yemeni children."
The United States and other Western powers provide weapons and intelligence to the alliance, and human rights groups criticize them for the air strikes of the coalition that killed hundreds of civilians in hospitals, schools and markets.
The US military press service said that the US forces did not participate in the air strike on Thursday. The US State Department called on the alliance to "carry out a thorough and transparent investigation."
US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said on Sunday that he sent a three-star general to Riyadh to "see what happened."
The coalition states that it did not intentionally target civilians and set up a committee to investigate alleged mass strikes against air strikes, which basically cleared it of any guilt.
Human rights groups are also being criticized by Houthis.
The UN Special Envoy in Yemen, the helm between the warring parties on the eve of the September 6 consultations in Geneva to try to end the conflict, which killed more than 10,000 people, and pushed the impoverished Arab country to starvation, according to the United Nations.
Gargash of the UAE said that he hopes that the Geneva talks marked the beginning of a process that will lead to a political settlement of the conflict, which is widely viewed as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and the regional opponent of Shiite Muslim Iran.
Reporting of the Reuters team in Yemen, Maha al-Dahan in Dubai and Yara Bayumi in Washington; A letter from Haida Gantus, editing by Alison Williams, William Macklin