Last month, a CNN investigation found remnants of a US-made bomb at the scene of an airstrike that left dozens of schoolboys dead. Now, an independent Yemen-based human rights group called Mwatana has given CNN exclusive access to a trove of documents that show fragments of US-manufactured bombs at the scene of a string of other incidents since 2015, when the civil war began. In each of those cases, civilians were either killed or put at risk.
Mwatana, which documents violations by all parties in Yemen’s conflict, used its network of trained field researchers to photograph evidence at the scene of strikes. The group consulted weapons experts to identify the weapons used from serial numbers found on the fragments. Mwatana was recognized last month with an award by US body Human Rights First.
While CNN was not on the ground, we have made our own checks using image metadata and publicly available government websites linking each of these incidents to a US manufacturer. An internationally renowned weapons expert also analyzed each image for CNN.
The incidents give a snapshot of US involvement in Yemen’s conflict through its support for the Saudi-led coalition that is battling a Houthi-led rebel insurgency. The United States says it does not make targeting decisions for the coalition. But it does support its operations through billions of dollars in arms sales, the refueling of Saudi combat aircraft and some sharing of intelligence.
Video: US-made weapons linked to Yemen deaths 5:25
Mwatana’s chairwoman, Radhya al-Mutawakel, told CNN that the US bore a “legal and moral responsibility for selling weapons to the Saudi-led coalition” that are worsening the conflict in Yemen.
“In more than one way and during more than one incident, remnants of American weapons have been found at the site of airstrikes that killed civilians,” she told CNN from Geneva, Switzerland. “Yemeni civilians are dying every day because of this war and you (America) are fueling this war, so stop fueling this war. It is a shame that financial interests are worth more than the blood of innocent people.”
Cdr. Rebecca Rebarich, a spokeswoman for the Pentagon, told CNN that “the final decisions on the conduct of operations in the campaign are made by the members of the Saudi-led coalition, not the United States.” Rebarich called “upon all parties to take all feasible precautions to avoid harm to civilians” and said the US took “all credible accounts of civilian casualties seriously.”
Col. Turki al-Malki, the Saudi-led coalition spokesman, told CNN that the coalition would investigate. The “coalition takes any allegations of incidents very seriously” and “targeting operations are carried out in conformity to the rules of engagement, which resemble the highest international standards,” he added.
US defense contractor Raytheon has not yet responded to a CNN request for comment.
Coalition jets drop a bomb on a residential neighborhood in al-Basateen District, Dar Sa’ad District, Aden Governorate, according to Mwatana. The bomb lands on the home of Haifa’ al-Zawqari, who was killed in the attack, while six others, including a young girl and two women, are wounded, Mwatana says.
CNN found that the National Stock Number (NSN) and part number on this remnant are those of a GBU-12 laser guided bomb manufactured by Raytheon, a US defense contractor. The bomb weighs 230-330 kilograms and contains 87 kilograms of highly explosive H6.
A coalition airstrike hits the Ahmed Bakri School in the al-Taheta area of Hodeidah on two separate occasions, according to Mwatana. There are no recorded casualties, the group says.
CNN found that the Commercial And Government Entity (CAGE) number on the shrapnel -- “96214” -- sources this weapon to Raytheon. “ADAPTER ASSY FORWARD” may relate to a GBU forward control unit used to modify a roughly 450-kilogram MK-83 bomb. It’s unclear which of the two strikes produced these remnants.
Saudi-led coalition planes drop three cluster bombs on the home of 28-year-old farmer Majed Ali in Bani Haddad Village, Haradh District, Hajjah Governorate, according to Mwatana. Six children and three women are among the dead, and six other civilians are injured, the group says.
Mwatana researchers found the outer shell of a CBU-58A/B -- a 430-kilogram US-made cluster bomb. CNN determined that the NSN on the remnant linked the munition to an aircraft dispenser and bomb manufactured in 1977 by the Air Armament Center, a division of the US government’s Air Force Materiel Command. The center, which closed in 2012, was once responsible for the development, acquisition, testing, and deployment of all air-delivered weapons for the US Air Force. Weapons experts told Mwatana there are usually about 630 BLU-63 spherical bomblets inside the type of shell found. According to Human Rights Watch, the United States exported 1,000 cluster bombs of this type to Saudi Arabia between 1970 and 1995. The United States is one of seven nations -- including China, Israel, Iran, North Korea, Russia and Saudi Arabia -- that have rejected a ban on the sale or use of cluster bombs.
Coalition jets drop three bombs targeting two adjacent houses in the governorate of al-Zahar, Ibb province, according to Mwatana. The attack kills eight people and injures 12 others, according to the group.
According to an internationally renowned weapons expert consulted by CNN, this fragment appears to be part of a rear fin for a guidance unit. The CAGE number “78301” sources the part to Simonds Machinery, a company based in San Francisco. Simonds is not a weapons manufacturer, but Mwatana’s experts believe this is a part from a US-made bomb.
Saudi-led coalition fighters drop a bomb targeting the home of a civilian in Sana'a governorate, according to Mwatana. Two people are injured, the group says.
The CAGE number and data on this image identify the fragment as a piece of a control actuator manufactured by Raytheon for use with its bombs. The date stamp shows this part was made in September 2010.
An airstrike hits a factory that stocks thousands of car parts in the Kilo 7 commercial area of Hodeidah province, Mwatana says. There are no reported casualties, but the bombing causes a fire that burns for three days, an eyewitness tells the group.
CNN found that the CAGE number “96214” on this piece of shrapnel belongs to Raytheon. The NSN indicates that this is a guidance kit which may have been used to modify an MK-82 bomb. The markings show it was made in May 2015.
A missile from a coalition aircraft strikes the village of Al-Saar in the Hajar district of Hajjah province, according to Mwatana. One civilian is killed and eight are wounded, the group says.
CNN found the NSN on the remnant was linked to an aircraft dispenser and bomb manufactured by the Air Armament Center, a division of the US government’s Air Force Materiel Command. The dispenser seen in the image is marked as model type CBU-52B/B, which holds 220 bomblets that would disperse in mid-air across an area roughly the size of several football fields.
An airstrike blows up a vehicle in Al-Mutama district, Al-Jawf governorate, killing 15 members of a single family including 12 children, the youngest a one-year-old boy, according to Mwatana. “Their bodies were torn to shreds. Flesh was hanging from the plants and trees,” an eyewitness tells Mwatana.
CNN found that the CAGE number “96214” on this piece of shrapnel belongs to Raytheon. The NSN indicates this is part of a control system for a GBU-12 laser guided bomb.
An airstrike in the Dahar district of Ibb province targeted an apartment building, killing six people and wounding one, Mwatana says. Eyewitnesses tell the group they fled, terrified after the explosion and returned to find an entire family, their neighbors, wounded and dying in the street.
The CAGE number “96214” on this part belongs to Raytheon. The Manufacturing Parts Number (or SKU) indicates this is the fin of a guidance kit that may have been used to modify an MK-82 bomb.
A cluster munition fired by Saudi-led coalition forces hits a fishing boat on the coast of Al-Hima village in Hodeidah Governorate, according to Mwatana. One man is killed, the group says.
CNN found that the CAGE number “18894” on the remnants correlates to the US government’s Air Armament Center, a division of the Air Force Materiel Command. An arms expert for Mwatana found the parts number “ASSY 8562837-5” linked to a large-scale anti-armor submunition, one of four carried by the US-manufactured cluster bomb BLU-108. Each submunition dangles under a parachute at a predetermined altitude, scans through a built-in infrared device, and explodes when it finds a target or upon impact.
Saudi-led coalition forces target a wedding party in Bani Qais District, Hajja Governorate, on a Sunday evening, Mwatana says. The strike kills 21 civilians, including 11 children, and injures another 97, 48 of them children, according to the group.
Mwatana’s researchers found parts of the missile tail used in this attack. According to a weapons experts consulted by Mwatana, the part in the above photo is part of a retractor mechanism, which is used with the model GBU-12 or any other model within the set of the US-made GBU bombs. Another image from Houthi rebel-run media of the same attack showed a piece of shrapnel with the CAGE number “96214,” linking the bomb to Raytheon, and the serial number in the photo indicates it is a wing assembly part from a GBU-12 Paveway II guided bomb. Investigations website Bellingcat also identified the remnant as a wing assembly part from a GBU-12 Paveway II guided bomb based on a photograph published by local media.
CNN’s Ryan Browne and Waffa Munayyer contributed to this report.
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