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Hundreds of rights violations documented in Yemen

Watchdog group finds that attacks by Saudi-led coalition and Houthi rebels killed more than 100 civilians in October.

At least 716 cases of rights violations were committed against civilians in Yemen last month, a rights watchdog has said.

The Geneva-based SAM Organization for Rights and Liberties said in a statement on Sunday that among the violations were incidents of extrajudicial killing, physical assault, arbitrary detention, forced displacement, torture and violations of press freedom.

More than 500 of the violations were attributed to Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, who currently control the capital, Sanaa, while the Saudi-led coalition was deemed responsible for at least 100.

A total of 115 civilians were killed in October, according to SAM. The group also reported 140 new cases of arbitrary detention in October, in addition to the thousands of civilians who were already being held by Houthi rebels and loyalists to Yemen's former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh.

SAM condemned all the incidents in its report as "gross violations" of international humanitarian law.

"[SAM] urges the UN and humanitarian organisations to provide immediate aid to the displaced civilians in Taiz and to work on lifting the blockade … immediately and without conditions," the group noted, urging the Saudi-led coalition to "avoid targeting civilians and to review its rules of combat in accordance with the international laws and conventions".

Saudi Arabia and its allies have been at war in Yemen since March 2015, when the oil-rich kingdom intervened to push back Houthi rebels and reinstate the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

The coalition, armed with US weaponry and logistical support, forced the closure of Sanaa airport in August 2016 to all but a few United Nations aid flights.

Earlier this month, the Saudi-led coalition intensified its embargo on Yemen, closing all of the country's land, sea and air ports after Houthi rebels fired a ballistic missile towards the Saudi capital, Riyadh.

Although Saudi eased its closure this week, allowing vital supplies into ports in government-controlled areas, the UN has warned that only a complete lifting of the blockade would stop what could be the worst famine in decades.

Saudi has deemed the blockade necessary to limit the alleged flow of weaponry to Houthi rebels from Iran. 

At least 10,000 people have been killed in the Yemen conflict, and seven million are in dire need of food assistance.


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