With regard to Human Rights Watch’s report, that on 10/01/2017 at approximately 8:00 am, a Coalition air strike hit a civilian gas station in the village of Bani Ma’asar in Nhamh Directorate, killing three civilians and injuring five others, the strike took place near a primary school, killing two students and a school administrative, injuring three children.
The attack destroyed a number of the school windows, and damaged the electricity cables and loudspeakers.
Al Falah Primary School is 150 to 200 meters away from the gas station, the gas station was previously used to provide fuel to military vehicles passing through the town, but there were no military vehicles in the gas station at the time of the attack, the Coalition had attacked the area surrounding the village before, it is located 8km from the fighting site between Yemeni forces supported by Coalition Forces and Houthi forces and former president forces.
JIAT also looked at the statement by Yemeni Saba news agency, which is controlled by the Houthi armed militia, that the death toll is eight people, and that Al-Falah primary school was completely demolished. The agency quoted some residents and aid workers saying that eight children were killed, and 15 other children were seriously injured, and that some of the victims may still be buried under the rubble.
JIAT vetted the incident and reviewed all related documents, including procedures and Rules of Engagement, Air Tasking Order, daily mission schedule, after mission report, mission video recordings, satellite images, and assessment of evidences. JIAT found that at 7:30 am of Tuesday 10/01/2017, a request of Close Air Support (CAS) from the Yemeni National Army Forces to target armed vehicle and a gatherings of Houthi armed militia elements during clashes in the Nahm front, north of the capital Sana’a. Coordination for the missions was carried out with the Forward Air Controller (FAC) in the area.
The Coalition Forces carried out an aerial mission in the claimed area, using three guided bombs on following targets:
1. Armed vehicle and gatherings of Houthi armed militia.
2. Armed vehicle of Houthi armed militia.
3. Elements of Houthi armed militia taking shelter in a small building the size of a room.
After reviewing and analyzing the facts related to the claim, JIAT found:
1. Al-Falah primary school and the gas station in the claim are located in Nham Directorate northeast of the capital Sana’a.
2. Coalition Forces targeted three legitimate military targets in different locations, the nearest was the third target (Elements of Houthi armed militia taking shelter in the-size-of-a-room building), approximately 150 meters away from the school, and approximately 35 meters northeast of the claimed gas station at the other side of a paved road.
3. JIAT found that the location and descriptions of the targets that the Coalition Forces targeted elements of Houthi armed militia taking shelter in the-size-of-a-room building were not consistent with the claim on a gas station and Al Falah Primary School.
4. The principle of “necessity” was been met, by the fact that the targeting was directed to legitimate military targets that effectively contribute to military action by nature, purpose and use by Houthi armed militia and the targeting of them achieved a military advantage based on article 52 paragraphs 2 of the First Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions.
5. The targeting was executed at the request of Close Air Support (CAS) by ground units of the Coalition Forces, and in coordination with the Forward Air Controller (FAC), during the field clashes in the (Nahm) front, which indicates the level of verification based on customary rule No. (16) Of IHL.
6. The operation was directed at legitimate military targets consist of two armed vehicles, a gatherings of Houthi armed militia, and elements of Houthi armed militia taking shelter in a small building (the size of a room) in Nahm. The operation was not directed at a civilian objects. The aircrew positively identified the targets according to the task assigned to him by FAC which was required by the Yemeni army, which met the principle of discrimination, based on Article 48 and Article 57 of the First Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions, and customary rule No. 7 of IHL.
7. JIAT found that the Coalition Forces used guided bombs, that were proportional to the size of the military targets, and was confirmed that the target area was free of civilians before and during the targeting, in accordance to the principle of protecting civilians and civil objects and proportionality in the selection means and methods of war, based on customary rule No. (17) of IHL.
8. In evaluating of the video of the targeting of the military mission, JIAT found that:
(A) First bomb hit the target, (an armed vehicle and a gathering of Houthi armed militias).
(B) Second bomb hit the target, (an armed vehicle of Houthi armed militia).
(C) Third bomb hit the target, (elements of Houthi armed militia taking shelter in the-size-of-a-room building).
9. After studying the after mission report of the air operation carried out, and analyzing satellite images after the missions’ date of the claimed site (Al-Falah Primary School) and (gas station), JIAT found that:
(A) Al-Falah Primary School is located in the Directorate of Nahm, north of the capital Sana’a, clear of any adjacent buildings.
(B) No traces of destruction resulting from an aerial attack on the building (Al-Falah primary school) in the district of Nahm, north of the capital Sana’a.
(C) No traces of an air strike on the claimed gas station and its annexes, nor to the surrounding buildings.
In light of that, JIAT found that the Coalition Forces did not target Al Falah Primary School, nor a nearby gas station in Nahm district, northeast of the capital Sana’a and that the procedures taken by Coalition Forces in dealing with the legitimate military target in Nahm Directorate, were correct and in accordance with the International Humanitarian Law and its customary rules.
Source: Saudi Press Agency