Army General admits US does not track weapons used to bomb Yemeni civilians
During a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) asked Votel, head of the US Central Command, whether Centcom tracks the purpose of the Saudi missions it refuels in Yemen.
“We do not,” Votel said.
Warren drew attention to the recent spate of civilian casualties in Yemen as a result of Saudi airstrikes against the region. She asked whether Centcom is able to ascertain whether US fuel or munitions were used as part of Saudi strikes that killed civilians.
“I don’t believe we are,” Votel said.
Since 2015, the US has backed Saudi forces with intelligence, ammunition and refueling and has been a major supplier of arms to Saudi Arabia and its allies in the conflict.
As of October 2017, the US had provided over 80 million pounds of fuel and refueled over 10,400 vessels in the Yemen region, according to Military.com.
In a subsequent question, Votel told Senator Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii): “We’re not parties to this conflict [in Yemen].”
At least 10,000 Yemeni civilians have died and the country is experiencing a devastating famine and a cholera epidemic, according to Oxfam.
The UN says there are 22 million people in need of humanitarian assistance.
Yemen’s conflict pits the Zaidi Shiite rebel group, known as the Houthis, against a coalition of Sunni forces led by Saudi Arabia and forces loyal to former Saudi-backed President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who was ousted in 2014 by the Houthis.
There has been growing congressional opposition to the US’ role in the Yemen civil war.
Two weeks ago Senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut) introduced a bipartisan joint resolution that calls for the removal of American armed forces in Yemen.
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