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Report claims bomb that landed on Yemen school bus was sold through State Dept. arms deal

An injured Yemeni child lies on a bed at an emergency clinic following a reported air strike in the Iran-backed Huthi rebels' stronghold of Saada province on July 19, 2018. Nearly 10,000 people have been killed in the Yemen conflict since the 2015 intervention, 2,200 of them children. The war has pushed the long-impoverished country to the brink of famine. (Photo by AFP/Getty Images)

A bomb used by a Saudi coalition that attacked a school bus in Yemen was sold through a U.S. State Department-sanctioned arms deal with Saudi Arabia, CNN reported.

Where did it come from?

According to the news outlet, the weapon that led to the deaths of dozens of children on August 9 was “a 500-pound (227 kilogram) laser-guided MK 82 bomb made by Lockheed Martin, one of the top U.S. defense contractors.”

The bomb is similar to one that landed on a funeral hall in Yemen in October 2016 that left 155 dead and hundreds wounded. The Saudi coalition blamed “incorrect information” for the strike and called it a mistake. In March of the same year, there was a strike on a Yemeni market killed 97 people. A U.S.-supplied precision-guided MK84 bomb was used in the attack, according to the report.

Following the funeral hall attack, former President Barack Obama banned sales of precision-guided military technology to Saudi Arabia due to human rights concerns. The ban was overturned in 2017 by then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, according to the report.

The U.S.-backed and Saudi-led coalition is investigating the strike on the school bus. Meanwhile, some observers and human rights groups are questioning whether the U.S. has any moral culpability in the attacks.

The U.S. does not make targeting decisions for the coalition as it fights a Houthi rebel insurgency in Yemen. However, it supports the operations through “billions of dollars in arms sales, the refueling of Saudi combat aircraft and some sharing of intelligence,” the news outlet reported.

What are people saying?

Pentagon spokeswoman Lt. Cmdr. Rebecca Rebarich declined to say where the bomb originated, according to CNN.

"The US has worked with the Saudi-led coalition to help them improve procedures and oversight mechanisms to reduce civilian casualties," she said.

"While we do not independently verify claims of civilian casualties in which we are not directly involved, we call on all sides to reduce such casualties, including those caused via ballistic missile attacks on civilian population centers in Saudi Arabia," she explained.

Coalition spokesman Col. Turki al-Maliki told CNN: "The democratically elected government of Yemen has been displaced by an Iranian-backed insurgency by minority Houthi militias."

"The coalition is in Yemen with the support of the UN Security Council to restore the legitimate government," he added. "The coalition is operating in accordance with international humanitarian law, taking all practical measures to minimize civilian casualties. Every civilian casualty is a tragedy."

One last thing…
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