Dozens dead after school bus carrying children hit by airstrike

Image      An ICRC-supported hospital received many dead and wounded Red Cross says

Image An ICRC-supported hospital received many dead and wounded Red Cross says

A Saudi-led Arab military coalition said on Friday it would investigate an air strike that killed dozens of children in Yemen, an apparent shift of stance on an attack Riyadh has portrayed as a legitimate action against its Houthi foes. The announcement came after the Shiite Muslim rebels backed global calls for a probe into the airstrike in the country's north which killed dozens the previous day.

"Today's attack in Saada was a legitimate military operation. and was carried out in accordance with worldwide humanitarian law", the Arabic-language statement said.

US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said the United States was concerned about reports of the air strikes and urged the Saudi-led coalition to "conduct a thorough and transparent investigation".

The senior source stressed that the leadership of the coalition chose to immediately refer the incident to the joint team for assessment and verifying the conditions and procedures to reach a conclusion as soon as possible.

At least 50 people were killed in the attack on a market in Saada on Thursday, according to the Houthi-controlled health department.

The Saudi-led coalition called the airstrike a "legitimate military operation", and a retaliation to a Houthi ballistic missile that targeted the kingdom's Jizan province on Wednesday night, according to Saudi Arabia's official news agency.

In a statement after Thursday's airstrike, United Nations chief António Guterres urged Yemen's warring parties to take "constant care to spare civilians" during military operations and also called for an "independent and prompt investigation".

Nearly 10,000 people - two-thirds of them civilians - have been killed and 55,000 others injured in the fighting, according to the United Nations.

A man transports a child to a hospital after he was wounded in a reported air strike in Saada on August 9, 2018.

It had said on its Twitter account on Thursday its medical team at the ICRC-supported hospital in Saada had received the bodies of 29 children, all under 15 years old.

Houthi backed television stations broadcast footage of young children receiving treatment in local hospitals.

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A Yemeni military source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Arabic-language al-Masirah television network that the projectiles hit the designated targets with great precision.

She called on the Saudi-led coalition to launch an investigation.

"We call on the parties to take appropriate measures to protect civilians", Nauert said.

A U.S. military spokeswoman said USA forces were not involved in Thursday's air strike.

Still, he called on the warring parties to "engage constructively" in the first round of consultations scheduled for September 6 in Geneva.

Forces struck a bus in Dahyan in the rebel-held province of Saada.

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The Saudis have accused the Houthis of using children as human shields, a charge the rebels deny.

The US-backed coalition earlier announced that it had ordered an investigation into the airstrike, that wounded at least 48 others.

Civilians have been enmeshed over the years in the conflict which has killed over 10,000, crippled the country's health system and pushed it to the brink of starvation.

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