Wednesday, 15 April 2015

15th April 2015, petrol station with queue of cars in Saada City Yemen hit by Saudi led coalition airstrike

On 15th April 2015, the Saudi led coalition airstrikes struck a petrol station in Saada City where approximately 50 cars were waiting for petrol. At least 5 people were identified as killed in the attack and 23 injured, although it is likely many more (at least 8 people were reported as too badly burnt to be identified).

This is the Human Rights Watch report of the incident:

Jarman Petrol Station

On April 15, at least one aerial bomb struck the Jarman petrol station in western Saada City, killing at least five people and injuring 23 – though likely many more -- who were waiting in line to fill their cars with gasoline.

Abed Abd al-Rahman Ali, 23, a car mechanic, told Human Rights Watch that about 50 cars were lined up outside the petrol station, known as the Jarman Station, next to his workshop.The combined effect of the war and the coalition blockade had created long lines at petrol stations all over Yemen.

Ali said he heard an airplane overhead at about 1 p.m. and then a loud explosion. A bomb had hit the gas station’s roof, causing it to collapse in a fireball that incinerated some of the vehicles. Ali, who said he ran out to help the wounded, described a chaotic scene at the station: “I saw four sets of limbs completely severed so we don’t know who they belonged to.”

Ansar Allah’s civil affairs office provided Human Rights Watch the names of five people who died in the attack and 23 wounded. Medical personnel told Human Rights Watch that they were not able to identify eight people after the attack because they were too badly burned, indicating a higher casualty figure.

Witnesses described seeing many victims after the attack. Ali said that he saw about 15 to 20 bodies on the ground and about 20 to 25 people with burns and fragmentation wounds. His brother, Osamah Abd al-Rahman Ali, told Human Rights Watch he arrived at the scene minutes after the strike and saw at least eight bodies, including some with severed limbs, and 16 wounded.

Human Rights Watch was also not able to establish how many of those killed were civilians. The Ansar Allah civil affairs office told Human Rights Watch that the people whose deaths they had documented were all civilians. Ali told Human Rights Watch that he did not see anybody at the station carrying weapons. Another Saada resident, however, told Human Rights Watch that the Houthis used the Jarman petrol station as the main one at which to refuel their vehicles.

satellite map of petrol station in Sadaa

Satellite imagery recorded around 10:30 a.m. on April 15, about two and a half hours before the airstrike, shows a line of several dozen vehicles stretching approximately 175 meters from the petrol station. The vehicles appear small in size consistent with passenger cars and pickup trucks. Satellite imagery recorded on May 2 shows extensive building destruction and fire-burned cars surrounding the petrol station consistent with the detonation of aerial munitions and secondary fuel tank fires.

During its investigation of the site, Human Rights Watch found that the concrete overhang above the petrol pumps had collapsed, consistent with witnesses’ claims that a bomb struck the roof. There were seven burned-out vehicles in close proximity to the station. All of the vehicles appeared civilian. Five of the vehicles were small passenger mini-buses. Two cars were regular personal cars. Photos from the immediate aftermath of the attack that Human Rights Watch reviewed do not show any additional vehicles that would appear to be military.

Burned-out cars Sadaa
Burned-out cars lined up by the Jarman petrol station, which was struck in an aerial attack on April 15, 2015. © 2015 Ole Solvang/Human Rights Watch

Because of the importance of fuel for military operations, depriving belligerent forces of fuel supplies is a legitimate military objective. Even so, for the coalition to attack a petrol station in the middle of the day when it could reasonably be determined that many civilians were present, instead of at night and after providing a specific warning, is contrary to the obligations to take all feasible precautions to minimize civilian harm and may amount to an unlawfully indiscriminate or disproportionate attack.

Targeting Saada: Unlawful Coalition Airstrikes on Saada City in Yemen
June 30, 2015 Human Rights Watch

The following daily report by the Legal Center for Rights and Development confirm the strike on Jarman petrol station including many casualties from this incident plus many other incidents that same day.

The following videos from Almasirah TV include footage from the incident.

WARNING: the following videos are graphic and distressing. They are put here as evidence of war crimes, to call on the UN for an independent inquiry, and to call on Western governments to honour the Arms Treaty and to stop the supply of weapons to Saudi Arabia.

Ref: 15041502

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