MOSCOW (Sputnik) — On Monday, UK Defense Secretary Michael Fallon told the House of Commons that an investigation concluded that a limited number of BL755 cluster munitions exported from the UK in the 1980s had been dropped in Yemen.
"I'm very concerned that the war in the Yemen, just as the war in Syria, is targeting civilians, that human rights abuses and indeed war crimes have been committed on all sides. And you know, the 21st century we're better than this. We shouldn't be allowing civilians to be treated in this way… We must try and ensure it doesn't happen again," Mitchell said on Tuesday.
He added that it is not necessary to suspend arms sales to Saudi Arabia, as the country has "legitimate self interest and defense considerations," but the way exported weapons are used is a key consideration.
Yemen has been engulfed in a military conflict between the government headed by Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and Shiite Houthi rebels, who have been supported by army units loyal to former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Since March 2015, a Saudi-led coalition including Arab countries has been carrying out airstrikes against Houthi positions at the request of Hadi.
Last week, Abdulaziz bin Habtour, prime minister of the unrecognized Yemeni government formed by Shia Houthi rebels and their allies, accused the United Kingdom of committing war crimes in Yemen by selling arms to Saudi Arabia.
On Tuesday, an Arab coalition said that it would stop using UK-manufactured cluster munitions and noted that the previous use of cluster bombs had been limited and justified by the need to defend Saudi civilians.