The White House has said it will halt planned arms sales to Saudi Arabia over the civilian casualties caused by the Saudi-led, U.S.-supported coalition's airstrikes in Yemen, Reuters reported Tuesday.
"We've decided not to move forward with some foreign military sales cases for air-dropped munitions, [precision-guided munitions, or PGMs]," a U.S. official told the outlet. "That's obviously a direct reflection of the concerns that we have about Saudi strikes that have resulted in civilian casualties."
Although the source did not provide details, Reuters reported that one slated transaction appeared to involve "hundreds of millions of dollars worth of guidance systems manufactured by Raytheon Co that convert dumb bombs into precision-guided munitions that can more accurately hit their targets."
The White House in October launched a review of its support for the Gulf kingdom after an airstrike hit a funeral earlier that month, killing at least 140 people and wounding hundreds more. Since the start of the war in 2015, the coalition has killed about 10,000 people, nearly 4,000 of them civilians. In November, an official said that U.S. support for the coalition does not include "target selection and review."
Earlier Tuesday, UNICEF reported that the conflict has driven Yemen's health system to the point of collapse, with nearly 400,000 children at risk of starvation and 2.2 million people in need of urgent care.
"SHAME on all parties—including the U.S.—that are deepening the Yemen humanitarian disaster," Lieu tweeted separately, adding, "My prediction: the muddled message White House is sending to Saudi Arabia is not going to stop further war crimes from occurring in Yemen."
The Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), a U.K.-based organization working to end global weapons sales, said the decision by the U.S. helps put a critical spotlight on British support for the coalition.
CAAT campaigner Andrew Smith said, "Like the U.S., the U.K. has licensed billions of pounds worth of arms to Saudi forces. Like their U.S. counterparts, U.K. arms companies have fueled and profited from the destruction taking place. If even the U.S. is questioning its support for Saudi Arabia, then why is the U.K. government pulling out all stops to support them? Why are human rights regarded as less important than arms company profits?"
"Today is full of news of human suffering," Smith said. "Much of the suffering we see in Yemen is being inflicted with U.K. made weapons and with U.K. political support. The U.K. must act now to stop the arms sales and to hold its so-called ally to the same standard as other aggressors and human right abusers."