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Saudi-led coalition opens probe into deadly Yemen hospital raid

Dozens of airstrikes have hit civilians in Yemen since March 2015 [AFP]

Date of publication: 16 August, 2016

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The Saudi-led coalition in Yemen has launched a probe into a recent airstrike on a hospital in Yemen that killed 11 people.

The Saudi-led coalition fighting rebels in Yemen said it had launched an "independent" investigation into "reports" of an airstrike on a hospital in Yemen which Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said killed 11 people.

"The Joint Incidents Assessment Team (JIAT) is aware of reports of an air raid on a hospital in Hajja... and has urgently launched an independent investigation into these reports," the team said late on Monday.

The team will "obtain more information from MSF and will publicly announce the findings" of the probe," it said in a statement published on the official Saudi Press Agency.

More than 19 people were also wounded in the raid that hit the MSF-supported hospital in the rebel-held northern province of Hajja, the Paris-based aid agency said, adding that one of its staff was among the dead.

The attack, which was condemned by key Saudi ally Washington, came less than 48 hours after airstrikes on a Islamic school in neighbouring rebel-held province Saada killed 10 children, according to MSF.

The JIAT said it was also investigating the attack on the school, which the coalition denied it had targeted, saying it bombed a rebel training camp for child soldiers.

As criticism of the civilian death toll from its bombing campaign mounted, a US Senator announced plans to try to block a US arms sales agreement with Saudi Arabia.

Republican Senator Rand Paul told Foreign Policy last week that he would work with a bipartisan coalition to stop a $1.15 billion weapons deal with Riyadh that includes the sale of 130 Abrams battle tanks, 20 armoured vehicles, and other military equipment.

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"Saudi Arabia is an unreliable ally with a poor human rights record," said the Kentucky Senator.

"We should not rush to sell them advanced arms and promote an arms race in the Middle East."

Dozens of airstrikes have hit civilians in Yemen since a coalition of Arab states led by Saudi Arabia began military operations in March 2015 to restore President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to power and fight the Iran-backed Houthis.

The airstrikes were identified as responsible for 60 percent of the 785 children killed and 1,168 wounded in Yemen last year.

In recent weeks, civilian casualties have continued to mount with the UN recording 272 deaths and 543 injuries in the four months between April and August 2016.

More than 2.8 million people have fled their homes because of daily bombardments and shelling since the beginning of the conflict.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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