HRW calls for arms embargo against Saudi Arabia

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Human Rights Watch has called for an arms embargo on Saudi Arabia over its aerial bombardment campaign against Yemen, stating that the United States could be held accountable for “atrocities” being perpetrated against war-stricken Yemenis by providing munitions to the Riyadh regime.

The New York-based rights group said in a report on Thursday that more than 160 people had lost their lives between September and October as a result of being hit by US-made bombs, which Saudi Arabia and its regional allies dropped on residential neighborhoods across Yemen.

It added that US arms were being supplied to the invaders irrespective of the fact that earlier reports had indicated such violations.

“The Obama administration is running out of time to completely suspend US arms sales to Saudi Arabiaor be forever linked to Yemen wartime atrocities,” Human Rights Watch researcher Priyanka Motaparthy said.

The rights group said its findings were from an investigation into a September 10 airstrike against Arhab town north of the Yemeni capital Sanaa, which left 31 civilians, including several first responders, dead and more than 40 others wounded.

The group said fragments of the bombs used in the raid revealed that they were manufactured in the US in October 2015, months after international rights bodies had warned against Saudi Arabia’s violations in impoverished Yemen.

Saudi warplanes struck Souq al-Hanoud area in the al-Hawak district of Yemen’s western province of Hudaydah 10 days later, claiming the lives of more than 28 civilians and leaving 32 others wounded.

“The US, UK, and others selling weapons to Saudi Arabia should suspend these sales until unlawful attacks are curtailed and properly investigated,” Motaparthy said.

On May 6, Steve Goose, the director of the Arms Division at Human Rights Watch and co-chair of the international Cluster Munition Coalition, criticized the US for selling cluster munitions to Saudi Arabia, urging Riyadh to stop using such banned arms.

Goose said Saudi Arabia had used various types of US-made cluster munitions, including CBU-105 Sensor Fuzed Weapons, in its war against Yemen despite evidence of mounting civilian casualties.

The US approved more than €19 billion in military sales to the kingdom in 2015 alone.

The US Senate endorsed a military deal with Saudi Arabia worth €1.1 billion in September.

The British government also continues to sell arms to Saudi Arabia, despite growing evidence of the use of UK-made weapons in Yemen.

According to the London-based Campaign Against Arms Trade, the UK has approved €3.7billion in military sales to Saudi Arabia since March 2015.