WARNING, the following video is GRAPHIC and DISTRESSING. It is put here as evidence to support the call for an independent enquiry into war crimes and to call on the West to stop supplying arms to Saudi Arabia.
At about 10:50 p.m. on May 6, at least three aerial bombs struck a cultural center and a residential house in southwest Saada City, killing 28 people (27 from one family), including seven women and at least 17 children, and wounding three men.
Local residents told Human Rights Watch that the first bomb struck the Saada Cultural Center and a few minutes later, a second bomb struck the southwest corner of the al-Ibbi family house, which is located next to the center.
Walid al-Ibbi, 35, the only al-Ibbi family member present to survive the attack without injuries, told Human Rights Watch that when the bomb fell on the southwest corner of the house, the family ran outside and towards the eastern entrance at the back of the house, thinking they would be safer in the back apartment. Minutes later, a third strike, possibly with two bombs, hit the part of the house where the family had taken shelter, al-Ibbi said. He told Human Rights Watch:
"Just earlier that evening, a family had come to our house to ask for my daughter’s hand in marriage for their son. Now I have lost my wife and all four of my daughters. I cannot believe that everyone I love is gone."
Al-Ibbi said that only three other members of his family survived the attack. His father, Abdullah, a barber, suffered a dislocated jaw and possible brain damage, his doctors in Sanaa told him. A metal fragment struck his brother Younes above one eye, damaging his optical nerve. Doctors told al-Ibbi that Younes may lose his sight if they operate and remove the fragment. Another brother, Ayman, suffered minor injuries. Al-Ibbi said that he was uninjured because he was standing outside the house when the third strike occurred.
Two neighbors gave Human Rights Watch similar accounts of what happened. Saleh Hussein Daglan, 54, who lives next to the al-Ibbi house, said:
“I heard the family as they screamed, I ran outside and saw bodies under the rubble. One son, Murad, was screaming ‘Save me! Save me!’ A big stone was crushing his legs. He died.”
Ayed Ayed Kamil, 55, another neighbor three houses down the street from the al-Ibbi house, told Human Rights Watch:
"As the last strikes hit, I ran outside and saw four members of the [al-Ibbi] family lying out on the road, under rubble. Three of Abdullah’s sons were dead but one, Younes, was alive. I saw that his forehead was sliced open. The rest of the bodies were in the house including a one-month-old baby and a pregnant woman."
Kamil told Human Rights Watch that the attack also wounded a man from Yemen’s marginalized muhamasheen community, who later died in the hospital from a fragmentation wound to the back of his neck.
Local residents provided Human Rights Watch with photos of at least 10 children who appeared to be under 10 years of age lying side by side on the floor, apparently lifeless. The residents said the photos were taken right after the strike.
At about 2 a.m. on May 7, another airstrike hit the cultural center next to the al-Ibbi home while local people were still pulling bodies out of the rubble from the earlier strikes, the two neighbors said. This caused the crowd of helpers to immediately disperse. Both men said that they knew of no military targets in the area; they said that the nearest security installation was about two kilometers away.
Human Rights Watch examined satellite images of the airstrikes. Researchers inspected three impact craters on the compound of the cultural center. A crater about one meter in diameter was located at the northern side of the cultural center, right inside the entrance gates. Two bombs appeared to have hit the building itself. The al-Ibbi house had been almost completely reduced to rubble with only part of the back wall and rooms still standing. There was also significant damage to neighboring houses. Human Rights Watch researchers did not find any remnants that could help identify the weapons used in the attacks, but aerial bombs appear to have been used.
The fact that at least three bombs struck the cultural center and that a warplane returned several hours after the main strikes to drop another bomb on the cultural center suggest that the center was the intended target of the attack. Al-Ibbi said that neither his father nor any of his brothers held any role with the Houthis. All of the men in the family, he said, were barbers, working at their family’s two salons in Saada City.
Nabil Ali Jameel, the head of the cultural center, told Human Rights Watch that the center is used for local festivals, theatre pieces, as a library, and to host the local Saada-based Ansar Allah radio station, Massira FM. A radio station used to direct military forces – and not merely report news or make propaganda statements – would be a valid military target, subject to a proportionality analysis. Having listened to some of the radio’s broadcasts, Human Rights Watch did not find evidence that the radio station was being used in that way.
One Saada resident said there were rumors that Houthi forces had used the cultural center as a meeting point, but all others with whom Human Rights Watch spoke did not believe this to be true.
Targeting Saada: Unlawful Coalition Airstrikes on Saada City in Yemen
June 30, 2015 Human Rights Watch
The following report by the Legal Center for Rights and Development lists names of the dead from the same incident targeting the cultural center, as well as the bombing of a house in the Dahian district of Al Damed area and a house in Al Boka'a district: