Coalition to 'review rules of engagement to ensure mistakes not repeated'

Pentagon seeking contractors to train Saudi pilots on US soil amid bloody Yemen air campaign

Pentagon seeking contractors to train Saudi pilots on US soil amid bloody Yemen air campaign

The Saudi-led coalition in Yemen has expressed regret over "mistakes" made in a deadly air strike on a bus.

Coalition spokesman Mansour Al Mansour said that a coalition investigation had found that errors were made prior to the strike, and called for those responsible to be "punished".

The bombing on a crowded market killed a total of 51 people.

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"The Joint Forces Command of the Coalition expresses regret over the mistakes, extends its sympathies, condolences and solidarity to the families of the victims", said a statement carried by the Saudi state news agency SPA. He also urged the coalition to review its rules of engagement and ensure forces' commitment to them. It also pledged to coordinate with Yemen's government to compensate civilians.

The coalition initially characterized the airstrike in Saada province as a "legitimate military action" against Iran-allied Houthi rebels who had fired a ballistic missile into southwestern Saudi Arabia.

"For more than two years, the coalition has claimed that JIAT was credibly investigating allegedly unlawful airstrikes, but the investigators were doing little more than covering up war crimes", said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.

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The Saudi-led coalition intervened in Yemen in March 2015 after the Houthis ousted President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi's government from the capital Sanaa and seized swathes of the country.

Earlier this week, the coalition rejected the findings of a United Nations report which said that war crimes may have been committed by all parties in the conflict.

The coalition has faced criticism for its campaign of airstrikes that has killed civilians and destroyed hospitals and markets.

It has recognised some of the incidents, but the coalition regularly accuses Houthis of hiding among civilians or using them as human shields.

The Western-backed alliance fighting the Iranian-aligned Houthi group in Yemen said at the time that the August 9 air strikes at a market in Saada province had targeted missile launchers used to attack southern Saudi Arabia a day earlier and accused the Houthis of using children as human shields.

Houthi attacks on Saudi ships prompted Saudi Arabia's state oil company, Aramco, to temporarily suspend oil shipments in late July before resuming them later after taking security measures.

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