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Deadly Saudi airstrike won’t go unanswered: Yemen’s ruling council

Medics carry the body of a victim of a Saudi airstrike in Sana’a, Yemen, October 8, 2016. (Photo by AP)

Yemen’s Supreme Political Council has vowed a firm response to a Saudi air raid that killed dozens of civilians during a funeral ceremony, calling on people to take to the streets of Sana’a to decry the assault.

“A response to the intruders’ crimes would soothe the soul of the Yemeni people,” Lebanon’s Al Manar TV quoted the council as saying in a statement released on Sunday.

It further urged the Yemeni army and allied Popular Committees to analyze all possible measures that could be taken to retaliate against all Saudi crimes in the Arabian Peninsula states.

The body further called for a mass protest rally in the capital, Sana’a, later on Sunday in a show of anger against Saudi atrocities.

More than 140 people lost their lives and over 525 sustained injuries on Saturday, when the Saudi airstrike hit a community hall in Sana’a, where mourners had gathered.

The hall was seriously damaged, hundreds of body parts were found strewn in and outside the building and nearby cars were mangled by the blast.

People stand at the site of a Saudi airstrike in Sana’a, Yemen, October 8, 2016. (Photo by Reuters)

String of condemnations

The Lebanese resistance movement, Hezbollah, was quick to deplore the Saudi airstrike, saying it serves the US interests in the region.

In a televised speech on Saturday, Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah, the Hezbollah secretary general, said that it was “expected” from the Riyadh regime to conduct such attack as it has committed several “massacres” in the Arabian Peninsula and neighboring countries.

“We must condemn in the loudest voice this massacre committed today...I tell this [Yemeni] nation they will inevitably be victorious and their blood will win over the sword of the killer and terrorist,” he said.

'Saudi rulers must be tried for war crimes'

Also on Sunday, Iran's Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan said Saudi rulers must be tried and punished as war criminals as soon as possible.

“In the continuation of its ghastly measures against the oppressed and defenseless Yemeni people, the biased, conceited and aggressive Al Saud regime has committed an unforgivable crime and this move must not remain unanswered by world governments and nations,” Dehqan said, adding that whoever remains silent in the face of such a ghastly measure would be an accomplice to Saudi regime’s crime. 

Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi strongly denounced the Saudi air raid as a “terrible and inhumane crime.”

He also slammed the silence of international bodies on the Saudi war on Yemen, saying there is no way to resolve the crisis other than a halt in the Saudi aggression and the resumption of talks between warring sides in the country.

Infographic: A compendium of Saudi crimes in Yemen war

In similar remarks, Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani deplored the Saudi attack, adding that the Yemeni army and allied Popular Committees would definitely give a response on the battle ground against the Saudi invaders and their allies.

He also described the US government as the “main partner” of the Al Saud in its “genocide” in Yemen as it supplies advanced weaponry to the Riyadh regime as well as the United Arab Emirates.

The White House is fully aware that Saudi Arabia uses US-made weapons in its massacre of Yemeni women and children, but it refuses to limit its arms export to Riyadh.

Additionally, Syria’s Ambassador to the UN Bashar Ja’afari called on the global community to adopt real measures aimed at ending the plight of Yemenis instead of “weeping crocodile tears” for the embattled Syrian city of Aleppo.

Subsequent to Saudi Arabia’s bloody airstrike on Saturday, Yemen's former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, who is an ally of the Ansarullah Movement, on Sunday called for the escalation of military attacks against positions of Saudi forces in the Arab country. 

"I call upon all members of the armed forces, security and popular committees ... to head to the front, to the borders, to take revenge," Saleh said in a televised address, adding, "We should avenge our casualties ... those killed in army bases as well as in markets, including heinous massacres, and the greatest of those is the massacre of the (funeral) hall."

The United Nations humanitarian coordinator in Yemen, Jamie McGoldrick, said that the world body’s relief mission in the impoverished country was “shocked and outraged” by the deadly assault.

He also called for an immediate probe into the incident and said the international community must exert pressure to ensure civilians are protected in Yemen.

“This violence against civilians in Yemen must stop immediately,” McGoldrick added.

UN relief chief Stephen O’Brien also demanded a prompt and “impartial” probe into the incident, saying, “This horrendous and heinous attack displayed an utter disregard for human life.”

‘Murderers can’t escape justice’

Houthis’ spokesman Mohammad Abdulsalam denounced the airstrike as the latest act of “genocide” by the Al Saud kingdom.

“The silence of the United Nations and the international community is the munition of the murderers,” he said, warning, “Those murderers will not escape divine justice.”

Meanwhile, Yemen’s army spokesman Brigadier General Sharaf Luqman vowed a distinctive response to the Saudi strikes from today on.

The intruders, who have failed to score a victory on the battlefield, have hallucinations of making Yemeni forces give up their duties in confronting the invaders, he said.

UN’s Ban demands investigation into Yemen attack

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Sunday called for a swift, independent probe into an airstrike, which left over 140 people dead and more than 525 injured at a funeral in Yemen, demanding the perpetrators face justice.

"The Secretary General condemns the attack on an event hall," said a statement from Ban's office, adding, "Any deliberate attack against civilians is utterly unacceptable."

Stressing that the investigation must be "prompt and impartial,” Ban said, "Those responsible for the attack must be brought to justice.”

Ban's statement however failed to directly blame Saudi Arabia for the carnage.

Pressure mounts on Al Saud

Saudi Arabia has come under mounting international criticism in recent months over the civilian death toll in its aerial campaign against Yemen.

Following Saturday’s carnage White House National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said that Washington will review its support for the Saudi war on its southern neighbor.

Yemen has seen almost daily military attacks by Saudi Arabia since late March 2015, with internal sources putting the toll from the bloody aggression at about 10,000. The offensive was launched to crush the Houthis and their allies and restore power to the resigned Yemeni president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.

The Houthi Ansarullah fighters took state matters in their own hands after the resignation and escape of Hadi, which threw Yemen into a state of uncertainty and threatened a total security breakdown in the country, where an al-Qaeda affiliate is present.

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