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Wikileaks corroborates cover-up of US airstrikes in Yemen

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

London, Dec 1, IRNA -- Amnesty International on Wednesday repeated its call for an inquiry into US involvement in killing dozens of civilians in missile strikes in south Yemen last December following the leaking of corroborating evidence.

“There must be an immediate investigation into dozens of deaths of local residents in the Abyan air strike, including into the extent of US involvement,” said Amnesty’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa Philip Luther.

“Those responsible for unlawful killings must be brought to justice,” Luther said after a leaked US cable reported Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh assuring General David Petraeus that his government would “continue saying the bombs are ours, not yours”.

According to the cable, this prompted Yemeni Deputy Prime Minister Rashad al-‘Alimi “to joke that he had just ‘lied’ by telling parliament that the bombs in Arhab, Abyan, and Shebwa were American-made but deployed by the ROYG [ Republic of Yemen Government ]”.

Following the bombings, the London-based human rights group provided photographs of the aftermath of the Abyan strike in June this year, including remnants of US-sourced cluster munitions and the Tomahawk cruise missiles used to deliver them.

Amnesty requested information from the Pentagon about the involvement of US forces but said it received no response. A Pentagon spokesman said the US declined to comment on the strike and that questions should be posed to the Yemeni government.

Luther said that the cable, published among more than quarter of a million by Wikileaks and which also announced that US security assistance to Yemen would more than double to $150 m in 2010, appeared to confirm the strike was carried out by the US military, not Yemeni government forces.

Amensty repeated its call for an investigation into the “serious allegations of the use of drones by US forces for targeted killings of individuals in Yemen and clarify the chain of command and rules governing the use of such drones,”

It also urged the US that all of its military and security support given to Yemen is designed to adhere fully with international human rights law and standards, and that such human rights standards are made fully operational in training programs.

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