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Yemen supports probe into Saudi air strikes against civilians — FM

May 25, 11:56 UTC+3 KUWAIT CITY
Yemen’s Foreign Minister Abdulmalik Al-Mekhlafi has accused the rebels of continuing to avoid talks, killing civilians in the country’s third largest city of Taiza
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© AP Photo/Hani Mohammed

AL KUWAYT, May 25. /TASS/. The Yemeni government supports the investigation of all war crimes committed during the armed conflict in the country, including Saudi-led coalition air strikes, which caused deaths among civilians, Yemeni Foreign Minister Abdel-Malek al-Mekhlafi told TASS on Wednesday.

"As for the Arab coalition, then it really committed mistakes," the Yemeni top diplomat said.

Yemen’s foreign minister is heading the government delegation at the inter-Yemeni talks in Kuwait.

"We, as the government, have taken steps that have led to the creation of the National Investigation Committee with the participation of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). This committee regularly sends reports for OHCHR sessions in Geneva and the government supports its work as a whole," al-Mekhlafi said.

The investigation is embracing all the violations committed, the Yemeni foreign minister said.

"The Houthis [Shia rebels] have committed a great number of crimes against civilians. They continue delivering artillery fire from entrenchments in the mountains around Taiz. This cannot even be called a battle," the foreign minister said.

As Director of the Operational Division at the UN Office for the Coordination of the Humanitarian Affairs John Ging told journalists on May 17 after his visit to Yemen, the Saudi-led coalition's air strikes had caused large-scale destruction of the civilian infrastructure, including houses and hospitals. The UN envoy said the damage had been caused both by air strikes and ground combat operations.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said at a UN Security Council session in December 2015 that the Saudi-led coalition forces were responsible for most of the attacks on residential quarters and civilian facilities in Yemen. As the UN envoy said, the situation required that "those guilty of such serious violations of international law" be brought to justice.

Yemen’s authorities to back ceasefire regime if talks in Kuwait fail

According to Abdel-Malek al-Mekhlafi, the government of Yemen will call to maintain the ceasefire regime in case of failure of the peace talks underway in Kuwait now.

Answering whether the government has an action plan should the peace talks halt, the diplomat expressed hope that this would not happen. "Huge efforts have been made to continue the talks. A decision was made to achieve peace," he said. "In case of failure we call for maintaining ceasefire, however we do not lose hope that everything will be successful this time."

Yemen’s foreign minister has accused the rebels of continuing to avoid talks, killing civilians in the country’s third largest city of Taiza and imposing the war. "Every day we submit reports on this to the special envoy," he said, adding that despite the plans of surrendering arms by the Houthi rebels they obtain the new ones.

"They have captured a base in al-Amaleqa (one of the largest military bases in Yemen) and 70 tanks, 40 artillery weapons, 60 armored fighting vehicles and also firearms and ammunition there," he said.

Al-Mekhlafi said in general, the rebels reject all initiatives of the international community, stressing that this creates obstacles for reaching progress.

UN Security Council’s role in settlement

Yemen’s foreign minister said the delegation that he leads accepts all the UN decisions and passes UN Security Council’s resolutions. He believes that the UNSC permanent member-states have huge influence on the situation and could also influence the Houthis.

The minister expressed gratitude to Russia’s authorities for a clear position stated by Russian Ambassador to Yemen Vladimir Dedushkin. "This position is in the need to establish peace by implementing Security Council’s Resolution 2216 and the surrender of arms by the rebels," he said.

The talks between the country’s government and the Houthi delegation in Kuwait kicked off on April 21. The only achievement at the moment is the creation of a committee on de-escalation and coordination aimed at carrying out monitoring of implementation of the ceasefire regime in Yemen that entered into force on April 11. Three working groups consisting of members of the delegations were set up that deal with issues of security, politics, prisoners and hostages.

Confrontation between the country’s government forces and the rebels began in August 2014. The conflict grew into an active phase when the so-called Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia intruded in March 2015. According to the United Nations, more than 7,000 people have been killed and over 30,000 have been wounded in the Yemeni conflict.

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