Two Yemeni families are seeking justice for 34 relatives who were alleged to have been killed in several US “counter-terrorism” operations in the country between 2013 and 2018.
According to the human rights group Reprieve, the families filed a petition this week against the US government over the “unlawful” killings, which included nine children among the victims.
The rights group which submitted the petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on the families’ behalf on Tuesday claimed six drone strikes and a special operations raid were carried out in the aforementioned period.
“It is averred that the seven attacks at issue have resulted in the unlawful killing of at least 48 people, including 17 children, and in the serious injury of at least seven others, as well as the destruction of their personal property and livelihoods,” said the petition which has been seen by AFP.
Among those killed were 34 members of the Al-Ameri and Al-Taisy families who are requesting the commission to call on the US government to take immediate action to prevent further harm as it reviews the files, which could take years.
The first strike, which took place in December 2013 under the administration of former President Barack Obama, targeted a wedding procession convoy, killing at least 12 people, including seven Al-Ameri family members and five people from the Al-Taisy family, according to the filing.
A local security official at the time told AFP some of the dead were suspected members of Al-Qaeda, however, both families have denied that their relatives were involved in terrorist activities.
Jennifer Gibson, a lawyer with Reprieve, told AFP yesterday: “What the families are hoping for from the commission is, first and foremost, recognition of the harm that’s been done to them.”
“They’ve tried time and time again to engage the Yemeni and US governments to stop the strikes, and yet they’ve continued. The commission, for them, is the last resort to try to put forward evidence to say ‘you’re making a mistake, whatever you think it is we’ve done, we’ve not done, please stop the strikes’,” she said.
The development comes amid the current US administration of President Joe Biden’s stated intentions to review US policy in the region and in particular its support for the Saudi-led coalition against the Houthi-aligned de facto government in Sanaa. The previous administration of President Donald Trump designated the Houthi movement as a foreign terrorist organisation, which has widely been criticised as hindering aid efforts and undermining any potential peace process. Biden has since suspended some of the sanctions imposed on the movement.
The State Department has also recently announced it will be halting arms sales authorised by Trump, which includes munitions to the Saudis and a $23 billion package of F-35 jets to the kingdom’s coalition partner, the UAE.