UN Supports Call for Independent Investigation Into Yemen War Abuses

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The attack could further sour US-Saudi ties already strained over the coalition's military intervention, which is suspected of causing nearly half of the more than 4,000 civilian deaths in Yemen's conflict.

Yemen's ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh, a key ally of the Houthi rebels, called for an escalation of attacks against Saudi Arabia on Sunday.

"The lack of Saudi experience is compounded by the asymmetric situation on the ground where enemy militants are not wearing uniforms and are mixed with civilian populations", he said.

United Kingdom daily The Independent, has reported that the Saudi Arabian-led coalition in Yemen has been accused of carrying out a "genocide" after its latest airstrike, which killed 140 people at a funeral.

Ban earlier condemned the attack and called for an investigation of the air strikes.

"They have the best insight into their own military procedures and will be able to conduct the most through and conclusive investigations", a Foreign Office spokeswoman said.

The United States has backed the coalition with multi-billion dollar arms sales and provided logistical and intelligence support, though it reportedly began pulling some soldiers from that task in August over concerns about civilian casualties in Saudi-led airstrikes. The US ship deployed "onboard defensive measures" and was undamaged, he said.

Yemen is of crucial importance for the USA, as the country is home to one of their worst enemies, al-Qaida's deadliest franchise, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which has orchestrated numerous high-profile terrorist attacks and claimed responsibility for the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris. The 47-member Geneva-based council, which includes Saudi Arabia, all but ignored those calls at its last session in September. After initially denying any responsibility, the coalition said Sunday it was ready to launch a probe into the "regrettable and painful" strike, which the United Nations said also wounded more than 525 people.

Saudi Arabia has consistently denied targetting civilians.

Yemen has been engulfed by civil war since 2014, when the Houthi rebel forces overthrew then president Addrabbuh Mansur Hadi. The U.N. and rights groups estimate the conflict has killed at least 9,000 people and displaced almost 3 million more.

During an October 2015 meeting with private human rights groups, a State Department specialist on protecting civilians in conflict acknowledged Saudi strikes were going awry. The attacks have often hit civilian targets with devastating results. Both sides accuse the other of war crimes. "The UK Government's response has been to continue supporting the Saudi forces that are dropping the bombs, and to sell them even more weapons".