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Iran Press TV

Saudi envoy defends military intervention in Yemen

Iran Press TV

Tue Mar 1, 2016 11:11AM

Saudi Arabia defends its war in Yemen after an EU call for arms embargo on Riyadh amid reports of high civilian casualties in the impoverished country.

"Saudi Arabia is bombing in Yemen to bring peace and stability," Saudi Ambassador to Britain Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Abdulaziz wrote in The Telegraph daily on Monday.

"While the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia deeply regrets any civilian deaths, it firmly denies allegations of deliberately targeting civilians," he said.

A recent report by a United Nations panel tasked with examining Saudi airstrikes on Yemen has found "widespread and systemic" attacks on civilian targets.

Prince Mohammed said the Saudi military was making "extensive efforts" to avoid civilian casualties.

"For instance, UK military personnel are providing assistance in targeting and its legal aspects, precision weapons are being used over cluster munitions," he said.

A new report from Human Rights Watch has accused Saudi Arabia in Yemen of using American-made cluster bombs in civilian areas.

Riyadh, the report said, is responsible for all or nearly all the cluster munitions attacks in Yemen because it is the only entity operating aircraft capable of delivering the weapon.

US officials have acknowledged reports of civilian casualties in Yemen but stopped short of recognizing the use of cluster munitions or accepting any direct responsibility for collateral damage resulting from Saudi strikes.

'We are aware of the Human Rights Watch report and are reviewing it,' Christopher Sherwood, a spokesman for the Department of Defense, told CNN on Monday.

On Thursday, the European Parliament called on the European Union to impose an arms embargo on Saudi Arabia in response to allegations of civilian casualties in Yemen.

'Our duty is to the civilians in Yemen, and given widespread and very valid concerns over the conduct of the war by Saudi forces, our call for an EU-wide arms embargo is proportionate and necessary,' said Alyn Smith, one of the lawmakers who spearheaded the vote.

Human rights groups have called for President Barack Obama to follow the EU Parliament's lead and impose an arms embargo on Saudi Arabia, but US security experts said Washington was unlikely to do that.

'The Obama administration is basically tolerating civilian casualties in Yemen and giving lip service that they are concerned,' said William Hartung, an adviser to the Security Assistance Monitor.

He said the United States continues to sell cluster bombs to the Saudis because of a number of geopolitical and economic factors.

Washington's long-standing role as an arms supplier to Saudi Arabia, he said, has been very lucrative for American companies.

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