Arab coalition says it ‘wrongly targeted’ Yemen funeral

October 8 air strike, which killed more than 140 people in Sanaa, was based on incorrect information, says inquiry team.

The Arab coalition battling Houthi fighters in Yemen has admitted one of its warplanes had “wrongly targeted” a funeral in Sanaa that killed more than 140 people, and announced disciplinary proceedings.

The October 8 strike in the Yemeni capital prompted an international outcry and strong criticism even from Saudi Arabia’s closest Western allies.

“Because of non-compliance with coalition rules of engagement and procedures, and the issuing of incorrect information, a coalition aircraft wrongly targeted the location, resulting in civilian deaths and injuries,” said an inquiry team of the Arab coalition assembled by Saudi Arabia.

“Appropriate action … must be taken against those who caused the incident, and … compensation must be offered to the families of the victims.”

The UN released a statement saying the organisation’s humanitarian coordinator, as well as the community of nongovernmental organisations in Yemen, were outraged and shocked by the strikes.

Funeral reception

In addition to the more than 140 deaths, more than 500 people were wounded in the strikes on the funeral reception for the father of Brigadier Jalal al-Ruweishan, interior minister in the self-proclaimed Houthi-led government.

Hundreds of mourners had gathered in the grand hall of ceremonies on al-Khamseen Street to take part in the ceremony.

The death toll was one of the largest in any single incident since the Arab coalition began military operations to support President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi in March 2015.


The Arab coalition initially denied that it was responsible for the strikes.

“Absolutely no such operation took place at that target,” a source within in the coalition told Reuters news agency on the day of the attack.

Marwan Bishara, Al Jazeera’s senior political analyst, said the coalition’s admission could jeopardise the peace process and put more pressure on Saudi Arabia.

Ruweishan had sided with the Houthi group when Hadi fled Yemen after the Iran-allied fighters advanced on his headquarters in the southern port city of Aden in March 2015.

The Arab coalition has been providing air support for Hadi’s forces in a civil war that has killed an estimated 6,700 people since March 2015 and displaced more than three million.

Intense fighting

Fighting has intensified since August when UN-sponsored peace talks in Kuwait ended without an agreement.

The Arab coalition had been blamed for several attacks on medical centres, including some run by international aid group, Doctors Without Borders (MSF), schools, factories and homes in the past 18 months that have killed scores of civilians.

In August, MSF said it was evacuating its staff from six hospitals in northern Yemen after a coalition air strike hit a health facility operated by the group, killing 19 people.

READ MORE: UK to present UN resolution calling for Yemen ceasefire

The coalition, which says it does not target civilians, has expressed deep regret over the decision and said it was trying to set up “urgent meetings” with the medical aid group.

The coalition’s admission came a day after Britain announced it was planning to put forward a draft Security Council resolution calling for an immediate truce in Yemen and a resumption of peace talks.

The 15-member body this week failed to agree on a statement condemning the October 8 air strike. Russia dismissed the statement as too vague and diplomats said Russia refused to engage any further on it.

Security Council statements must be approved by consensus.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies