Human Rights Watch has investigated reports of the use of cluster munitions in Saudi-led airstrikes on Yemen's capital, San‘a. As of Thursday, HRW had found indisputable evidence of the weapons in two neighborhoods, according to a report published today. The cluster munitions used were manufactured in the USA, and were likely sold to Saudi Arabia or another participating air force by the US, though Saudi Arabia has been known to buy US munitions from third countries as well. Although neither the US nor KSA has signed the international ban on cluster munitions, the use of such weapons--which are, by their nature, indiscriminate--in populated areas is a crime under international humanitarian law. From the HRW report:
“The coalition’s repeated use of cluster bombs in the middle of a crowded city suggests an intent to harm civilians, which is a war crime,” said Steve Goose, arms director at Human Rights Watch. “These outrageous attacks show that the coalition seems less concerned than ever about sparing civilians from war’s horrors.”
Residents of two Sanaa neighborhoods described aerial attacks consistent with cluster bomb use. A resident of al-Zira`a Street told Human Rights Watch that his family was awakened at 5:30 a.m. on January 6 by dozens of small explosions. He said that he had been at work, but that his wife told him that when the family fled they saw many homes and a local kindergarten with newly pockmarked walls and broken windows.
A resident of Hayal Sayeed, another residential neighborhood, described hearing small explosions at around 6 a.m. He went out on the street, he said, and saw more than 20 vehicles covered in pockmarks, including his own, as well as dozens of pockmarks in the road. He said that at least three houses in the area had pockmarked walls and broken windows. He found a fragment in his car, he said.