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EIGHT children were killed in attacks in Yemen just days before and after ministers decided to resume arms sales to Saudi Arabia, an investigation by website Declassified claims.
Evidence obtained by Declassified suggests that two air strikes on July 1 and July 12 were carried out by the Saudi-led coalition.
On July 7, International Trade Secretary Liz Truss announced that she would begin licensing new arms exports to the kingdom.
She claimed that possible violations of international law by Saudi Arabia and its allies during their five-year war against Yemen’s Houthi movement were “isolated incidents.”
Footage of the aftermath of the attacks, recorded by Houthi news agency Almasirah Media Network, shows remnants of missiles that appear to have been made in the United States, Declassified reported.
These weapons are believed to have been sold to Saudi Arabia in 2015, according to investigative journalism website Bellingcat.
The strike on July 1 hit the Washhah district of north-west Yemen, killing one child. The second attack on July 12 in Sadaa, north of the capital Sanaa, killed seven children and two women, said Lisa Grande, the United Nations humanitarian co-ordinator for Yemen.
More than 18,000 civilians have been killed since 2015 and during that time, British arms giant BAE Systems has sold £15 billion worth of arms and services to the Saudi military.
In July 2019, the Court of Appeal ruled that the government had acted unlawfully by issuing licences for the export of arms to Saudi Arabia without looking into incidents of potential human rights violations by Riyadh’s forces in Yemen, including the bombing of schools, hospitals and funerals.
On Monday, the government was forced to release figures showing that it had recorded more than 500 potential violations of international law in Yemen since 2015.
The disclosure was in response to an urgent question in the Commons from Labour MP Zarah Sultana, who responded by saying: “With more than 500 potential violations of international law, it’s clear these are widespread not ‘isolated,’ violations of international law. The government must immediately stop all arms sales to Saudi Arabia.”
Campaign Against the Arms Trade, whose legal challenge led to the Court of Appeal ruling, told Declassified: “These so-called incidents are people’s lives. Every time one of these ‘incidents’ happens, there is a human cost to it.
“The bombing has killed thousands of people and the decision to resume arms sales can only prolong the violence and add to the bloodshed.”
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