Saudi Arabia has admitted to the use of banned cluster bombs during its relentless airstrikes on Yemen.
“It has become apparent that there was limited use by the coalition of the UK-manufactured BL755 cluster munitions in Yemen,” said a spokesman for the Saudi forces in Yemen, Ahmed al-Asiri, on Monday.
He went on to claim that the bombs were only used against legitimate military targets and that the kingdom was not part of the convention banning the use of such munitions.
“Some states have undertaken a commitment to refrain from using cluster munitions by becoming party to the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions. Neither Saudi Arabia nor its coalition partners are state parties to the 2008 convention, and accordingly, the coalition’s use of cluster munitions does not violate the obligations of these states under international law,” he said.
He noted that Riyadh has decided to stop the use of cluster bombs and that it has informed the British government of its decision.
The Saudis' announcement came after a British Defense Ministry inquiry showed that Riyadh had used UK-supplied cluster bombs in Yemen.
Earlier this month, Yemen’s Prime Minister Abdulaziz bin Habtoor accused Britain of committing war crimes.
“They have sold cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia,” the new premier told Sky News. “They know the Saudis are going to drop them on Yemen ... in Sa’ada and in Sana’a and other provinces. I don’t think they are guilty of war crimes, I believe so. They are participating in the bombing of Yemen’s people.”
Saudi Arabia began its military aggression against Yemen in late March, 2015 in a bid to restore power to Saudi-backed former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.
File photo shows a cluster bomb.
The Saudi campaign has claimed the lives of more than 11,400 people, according to figures compiled by the Yemeni non-governmental monitoring group Legal Center for Rights and Development.
Multiple rights groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have on various occasions reported the use of illegal cluster bombs by the kingdom in Yemen.