From left: Dr Anwar Gargash, David Hale, Adel Al Jubeir, Jeremy Hunt and Shaikh Abdullah following the Yemen Quartet ministerial meeting in New York. Image Credit: WAM

Riyadh: The Saudi-led coalition battling Yemen’s Iran-aligned Al Houthi militia alongside government forces yesterday strongly criticised a UN human rights mission as the UN Human Rights Council voted by 21 votes to eight yesterday in favour of prolonging an inquiry into human rights in Yemen.

The coalition had earlier said any extension should be a matter for the Yemeni government, which already announced on Thursday that it was ending cooperation with the UN investigation into suspected war crimes during more than three years of conflict.

But it again took strong issue with an August 28 report by the panel, which accused both government forces and Al Houthi militia of violations but said that coalition air strikes had caused “most of the documented civilian casualties” and voiced “serious concerns about the targeting process”.

In comments released to AFP through the Saudi information ministry, the coalition criticised the “inaccuracy of the information in the report, which was derived from non-governmental organisations and the testimonies of some persons whose circumstances are unknown”.

It said the report “failed to mention Iran’s role in Yemen, and the countless violations perpetrated by the Al Houthis, both against the Yemeni people and against the kingdom” of Saudi Arabia.

“These violations include targeting the kingdom using Iranian ballistic missiles - aimed at civilian and religious sites,” it added.

Missiles fired

The coalition says the militia have fired more than 185 missiles at Saudi Arabia since it intervened in Yemen in March 2015 when President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi fled into exile as they closed in on his last stronghold.

It accuses Saudi arch-foe Iran of smuggling in the missiles through the militia-held Red Sea port of Hodeida, the entry point for UN aid for millions of desperately needy civilians. In New York, Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and Dr Anwar Mohammad Gargash, UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, participated in the Yemen Quartet ministerial meeting on the sidelines of the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly.

The meeting was also attended by Adel Al Jubeir, the Saudi Foreign Minister, Jeremy Hunt, British Foreign Secretary and David Hale, US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs.

The foreign ministers emphasised their support for the UN efforts led by the Special Envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths. They also discussed Iran’s destabilising influence in Yemen and the region as a whole, and also tackled ways to develop confidence-building measures after the breakdown of peace talks in Geneva.

Meanwhile, coalition air defences on Thursday intercepted a ballistic missile fired by Al Houthis towards Yemen’s southern port city of Aden, a security official told Xinhua.

“Al Houthis targeted the main headquarters of the coalition forces with a ballistic missile, but the attack was aborted,” the local security source said.

The attack caused no casualties among coalition forces.