Saudi-led coalition says unaware prisoners held at Yemen site

AFP , Monday 2 Sep 2019

Red Crescent medics carry a body of the victim of Saudi-led airstrikes on a Houthi detention centre in Dhamar, Yemen, September 1, 2019. (Photo: Reuters)

The Saudi-led military coalition fighting Yemen's Houthi rebels said Monday it was unaware that prisoners were held at a facility it targeted with deadly air strikes.

"The coalition was never informed... about the location," spokesman Turki al-Maliki told a press conference, a day after the strike which the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said it feared had left some 130 detainees dead.

"The Houthis bear full responsibility for making this a location for Yemeni citizens who have been forcibly disappeared," he added.

Maliki reiterated the coalition's stance that the site in the city of Dhamar was used by the rebels to store drones and air defence systems.

"The (facility) was not on the 'no strike list' of sites in the city of Dhamar," he said. "Some reports have quoted the ICRC as saying it has gone to the site a number of times. The coalition has never been informed... about the location."

The Saudi-led military coalition intervened in 2015 to support the government after the Iran-aligned Houthis swept out of their northern stronghold to seize Sanaa and much of Yemen -- the Arab world's poorest nation.

Fighting since then has already claimed tens of thousands of lives and sparked what the United Nations calls the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

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