UN chief denounces Yemen funeral carnage

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SANAA: The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has called for a “prompt and impartial” probe into the air raid that killed more than 140 people and wounded more than 525 people at a funeral in Yemen.

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“Those responsible for the attack must be brought to justice,” he said.

Meanwhile, Iran has asked the UN to help the Iranian Red Crescent make arrangements to send a plane with humanitarian supplies to Sanaa and to evacuate the wounded for treatment in hospitals in Iran.

In a letter to Ban Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif said, “Not only Saudi Arabia, but also those who have supported the aggression by the Saudi-led coalition against Yemeni people should be held accountable for the war crimes perpetrated in Yemen over the past year and a half.”

The Saudi-led coalition fighting rebels in Yemen had first denied any responsibility for raid, but later agreed, ahead of Ban’s call, to investigate after the US said it was reviewing support for the alliance.

UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien had also called for a prompt and “impartial” probe into the attacks, which he described as “ horrendous and heinous” and “displayed an utter disregard for human life.”

The Iran-backed Huthi rebels blamed the Saudi-led coalition for the attack calling it one of the deadliest since the alliance launched a military campaign against the Shiite insurgents in March 2015.

The incident risks embarrassing Riyadh’s key ally Washington, which has vehemently criticized Moscow over the heavy civilian death toll in Aleppo from Russian air raids in support of Syria’s regime.

Thus, it could further sour US-Saudi ties already strained over the coalition’s military intervention, which is suspected of causing almost half of the more than 4,000 civilian deaths in Yemen’s conflict.

Washington said it had launched an “immediate review” of support to the Arab coalition while White House National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said “US security cooperation with Saudi Arabia is not a blank check.”

US Secretary of State John Kerry also spoke with Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman and foreign minister Adel al Jubeir on the phone about the attack and expressed “deep concern”, Kerry’s office said in a statement Sunday.

“The Secretary also reiterated the need for an immediate cessation of hostilities, and the Deputy Crown Prince stated his desire to institute a renewable 72-hour cessation as soon as possible, provided the Huthis will agree,” the statement said.

AFP

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