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    A man puts a logo of US-based rights group Human Rights Watch on the wall as he prepares the room before their press conference to release their annual World report on January 21, 2014 in Berlin

    Rights Groups Say Australia Must Freeze Military Exports Used in Yemen Strikes

    © AFP 2018 / JOHN MACDOUGALL
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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - Three international human rights organizations in a letter called on Australia’s defense and foreign affairs ministers to stop supplying arms to Saudi Arabia until Riyadh halts unlawful airstrikes in Yemen, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a press release.

    "The Australian government should cease supplying military assets to Saudi Arabia until it halts unlawful airstrikes and other unlawful attacks and credibly investigates alleged war crimes," a press release accompanying the letter said on Thursday.

    The letter, signed by HRW, Save the Children, and Amnesty International, said that Australia admittedly wants to become one of the world’s largest military exporters but must ensure these weapons are not used in violation of international human rights and humanitarian laws.

    On Thursday, the Yemeni cabinet ended the mandate for a UN human rights agency after a report accusing the government’s Gulf allies of being behind most civilian casualties in the war. The UN report said the Saudi-led coalition made little effort to minimize civilian deaths, launching airstrikes at residential areas, weddings, and clinics.

    Last week, the Saudi-led coalition of Arab states announced the launch of another large-scale military offensive to liberate the embattled city of Al Hudaydah from Houthi militants.

    Yemen has been engulfed in an armed conflict between the government forces led by President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi and the Houthi rebels for several years. The Saudi-led coalition has been carrying out airstrikes against the Houthis at Hadi's request since March 2015.

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    Tags:
    arms exports, Amnesty International, Save the Children, Human Rights Watch, Yemen, Australia
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