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Saudi Arabia using controversial cluster bombs in Yemen

A Human Rights Watch report alleges that Saudi Arabia is using cluster bombs supplied by the United States in its attacks on Yemen. The weapons spread multiple bombs over a large area.

Riyadh's airplanes used cluster bombs to attack Yemen, New York-based organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) alleged on Sunday. The explosives, supplied by the US, hit an area within 600 meters of buildings in four to six village groups, the rights' group said.

Mary Wareham, Advocacy Director, HRW, tweeted a map of the impacted region.

The strikes were carried out in Saada, a northern province controlled by Shiite Houthi rebels. These attacks, were "putting local people in danger," HRW's Steve Goose said.

Riyadh denied using cluster bombs in its

air campaign to rout Houthi rebels.

"We are not using cluster bombs at all," Saudi Arabian army spokesman Ahmed al-Assiri told reporters last month.

Banned by international treaty

The use and stockpiling of cluster bombs is banned according to the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions, signed by 116 countries other than Saudi Arabia, United States and Yemen.

The devices leave unexploded bombs that, like landmines, could endanger civilian lives many years after the actual attack. HRW's Executive Director in the Middle East, Sarah Whitson, also called the bombs the war's "ugly legacy."

"All such attacks need to be thoroughly and transparently investigated by the coalition forces… Such a heavy civilian death toll ought to be a clear indication to all parties to this conflict that there may be serious problems in the conduct of hostilities," UN human rights chief Zeid Raad al-Hussein told the AFP news agency.

Shiite Houthi rebels linked to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh have seized large areas of northern Yemen. The insurgents took over capital, Sanaa, last September and forced out President Abd Rabbu Mansur Hadi from Aden last month.

The bombs were dropped on Yemen as part of Riyadh's offensive against the rebels, killing over 1,000 people, including several hundred civilians.

There were also reports of Yemeni officials saying at least 20 Arab coalition troops had landed in the port city of Aden on Sunday.

Officials and witnesses in Aden told the Associated Press news agency that the black-clad and masked troops were accompanied by helicopter gunships.

mg/rc (AFP, dpa)

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