Saudis 'used British planes to bomb Yemen'

Amnesty International says it is "extremely likely" that Saudi Arabia used British-supplied Tornado warplanes to bomb northern Yemenat the height of the Houthi conflict last year.

Saudi forces came to the aid of the Yemeni military against the rebels in November and operations continued until a ceasefire was declared in February. I followed the developments here on this blog at the time.

Amnesty's UK Arms Programme Director, Oliver Sprague, says: 

"Our report points to the Saudis using UK-supplied and UK-maintained arms in secret attacks that have left scores of Yemeni civilians dead.

"The [British] government needs to announce a thorough investigation to get to the bottom of this, reporting the findings back to parliament.

"Meanwhile all current and future UK supplies of arms to Saudi Arabia should be suspended pending the results of this investigation. Lucrative arms sales to Saudi Arabia should not come at the expense of human rights and international law."

Amnesty says that in one attack, on the town of al-Nadir in November, which was reportedly conducted by Saudi forces, so many people were killed in just one extended family that witnesses say the family "had to create a cemetery for themselves". 

The British-made Tornado fighter-bomber, supplied under the controversial al-Yamamah deal – Britain's most lucrative arms deal ever – forms the backbone of the Saudi air force.

Posted by Brian Whitaker, 25 August 2010