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After Child Deaths in Yemen, Democrats Write 3 Letters

House and Senate Democrats want info on US involvement in Yemen airstrikes
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 16, 2018 8:12 AM CDT
Yemeni people attend the funeral of victims of a Saudi-led airstrike in Saada, Yemen, on Monday.   (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)
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(Newser) – Three letters over the last three days. That's how many messages House and Senate Democrats have penned this week demanding the US be forthcoming with information on its involvement in Yemen after an airstrike there last week killed at least 40 kids. Critics say there could be thousands of civilian deaths that the US could be tied to, spurring the Dems' notes to officials at the DOD and State Department and in US intelligence, the Washington Post reports. The letters, including one written Tuesday by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, request details on US involvement in the conflict that has pitted Shiite Houthi rebels against a Saudi-led coalition that's in support of the Yemeni government. In her letter, Warren pressed Gen. Joseph Votel, the chief of US Central Command, on whether the US has been lending a hand in any airstrikes that have resulted in civilian deaths.

A second letter by 30 House Democrats has also demanded a briefing of the war from Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and DNI chief Dan Coats, while a third letter by Rep. Ted Lieu wonders whether the US has violated any US or international laws. New data cited by the Guardian says there have been more than 50 strikes against civilian vehicles in Yemen so far in 2018. The New York Times calls the latest airstrike that resulted in "44 small graves" "particularly shocking," and frames US military leaders as "exasperated" by the civilian toll and insistent that "the United States is not a party to the war"; critics counter that the US has sold the coalition weapons and given it intel. The Times notes that both Mattis and Pompeo took action to press Saudi officials on the attack, including a call from Mattis to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. (Read more Yemen stories.)

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