State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert deflected questions about a US-backed Saudi airstrike that killed dozens of children in Yemen, instead choosing to highlight “Houthi attacks” against Saudi Arabia.
The State Department has “seen the news reports” about a Saudi-led coalition airstrike that killed at least 50 people and wounded more than 70 – most of whom were children – in northern Saada, Yemen, but “can’t confirm all the details because we are not there on the ground,” Nauert told reports during a press briefing on Thursday.
She added that the United States is “certainly concerned” about the “reports,” and “regrets any loss of civilian life.” Nauert also urged Saudi Arabia to launch a “thorough and transparent investigation into the incident.”
Insisting that she had no other details or information on the matter, Nauert then chided reporters at the briefing for ignoring the “devastation” in Yemen.
“You all rarely ask about the issue that has been unfolding, and the devastation that has taken place in Yemen, let’s look at some of things that have been happening in Yemen,” Nauert said to journalists. “You have the Houthi rebels, who continue to attack Saudi Arabia. They continue to do that with Iranian weapons, missiles and rockets. They continue to try to attack civilian infrastructure in Saudi Arabia, for example. And that is part of the reason why these actions are being taken.”
Nauert did not clarify what she meant by her last sentence, which seems to imply that the deadly airstrike – which hit a bus full of children – was a retaliatory measure. The Saudi-led coalition has described the strikes as “legitimate,” claiming that Houthi rebels used the children as human shields. The United States has provided the Saudi-led coalition with weapons and logistical support during the three-year conflict.