Parties fighting a brutal civil war in Yemen have conducted attacks that were “disproportionate” and could be considered war crimes, a United Nations panel of experts announced Tuesday.
Their report, which comes after multiple recent civilian deaths, points to thousands of civilian casualties caused by Saudi-led coalition airstrikes, widespread arbitrary detention, torture, sexual violence and the conscription of children as young as 8 into Yemen’s armed forces, all of which are crimes under international law.
All sides are “responsible for a violation of human rights” and crimes “continue to be perpetrated,” the report says.
“The violations we have documented were horrendous,” said Kamel Jendoubi, chairperson of the Group of International and Regional Eminent Experts on Yemen, the report’s authors, at a press conference Tuesday morning.
The Yemen war began in early 2015 when Houthi rebels — a minority Shia group from the north of the country — drove out the US-backed government and took over the capital, Sanaa.
The crisis quickly escalated into a multi-sided war, with neighboring Saudi Arabia leading a coalition of Gulf states against the Houthi rebels. The coalition is advised and supported by the US and the UK, among other nations.
Earlier this month, CNN established that a bomb that hit a school bus and killed dozens of children was US-made and had been sold to Saudi Arabia as part of a State Department-sanctioned arms deal.
On Monday, CNN learned that the Pentagon warned Saudi Arabia that it is prepared to reduce military and intelligence support if the Saudis do not demonstrate efforts to limit civilian deaths in airstrikes.
Responding to the UN’s findings Tuesday, Saudi-led coalition spokesman Col. Turki al-Malki told CNN that the report had been referred to the coalition’s legal team.
“After a legal review, the coalition will take the appropriate stance regarding this matter and it will be announced,” al-Maliki said.