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Rocket attack, caused civilian casualties in Al-Rawda neighborhood, Marib Governorate.

November 19, 2021

Rocket attack, caused civilian casualties in Al-Rawda neighborhood, Marib Governorate.

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Incident Summary

  • Incident: Rocket attack, caused civilian casualties in Al-Rawda neighborhood, Marib Governorate.
  • Location: Al-Rawdah neighborhood in Marib city, Marib governorate.
  • Date: 3 October 2021
  • Time: Between 14:35 - 14:49 PM
  • Casualties: 3 dead, 32 injured, including women and children
  • Damage: 2 houses completely destroyed, 1 house partially destroyed and windows and exterior walls of 4 houses were damaged by shrapnel, blast pressure, as well as 5 vehicles were destroyed.
  • Attack type: Rocket attack
  • Possible munitions: BM-21 Grad
  • Potential responsibility: Houthi “Ansar Allah” group forces.

Introduction

Rocket attack caused the collapse of a mud-brick house killing two children instantly, and a third child died from his injury two days after the attack on Al-Rawda neighborhood, north of Marib, on the evening of 3 October 2021. Dozens of civilians, including women and children, were injured, several civilian houses and vehicles were damaged.

About the area

Marib Governorate - rich in oil and gas – has been subjected to continuous military confrontations since February 2021, between Yemeni government forces backed by the Saudi led coalition warplanes, in an attempt to prevent Houthi forces from controlling the city center, in the longest battle since the beginning of the conflict in Yemen, given the city’s political, economic and military importance to both sides. Marib city has been subjected to rocket and artillery bombardment since the outbreak of the confrontations in 2015. During that period and until July 2019, the city was protected from ballistic missiles by UAE Patriot defense system before they withdrew them in conjunction with the withdrawal of its forces from Yemen. Marib then became exposed to ballistic missiles, which were used heavily and reached their climax in early 2021, with the massive Houthi attack on the city.

Yemeni Archive conducted an open-source investigation into an attack on a fuel station in Al-Rumaila area, east of Marib city, the governorate centre, with a fragmentation-pattern ballistic missile in mid-March 2021, which killed 2 civilians and wounded 7 others.

“Yemeni Coalition for Monitoring Human Rights Violations”, a local group monitors human rights violations published recently a report documenting hundreds of attacks on Marib city since 2014, and the number of victims - according to the report – of the missile and artillery bombardment reached about 1354 civilian dead and wounded, including women and children, in various governorate districts.

Al-Rawda neighborhood, north of Marib city was subjected to a series of rocket attacks, which killed children and women. On 3 April, 2021, a missile fell on the neighborhood, hitting a group of children while they were playing, killing a child and wounding four others. On 5 June of the same year, a missile hit a gas station, killing 21 civilians and wounding 5 civilians, according to the report. The most recent of which was an incident targeting a civilian home, the subject of this investigation.

1 A satellite image of Marib city, the governorate center, from Google Maps.

The Incident

On 3 October 2021, reports on social media and local news sites said that civilians, including women and children, were killed as a result of missile strikes on homes in Al-Rawda neighborhood, north of Marib city, the center of Marib governorate. The first report of the attack was in a tweet by Mohammed al Sharif account on Twitter, at 14:49 pm local time.

2 A screenshot from Mohammed al Sharif tweet.

3 A screenshot of Belqees TV’s Facebook post

After the attack, several videos and photos were published in various sources, most of which showed the destruction in the houses on which the missile fell, while a source posted on Twitter a video showing smoke rising from a distant area, saying that it was the moment a house was targeted in Al-Rawda neighborhood. Yemeni Archive investigated and verified those videos and photos’ relevance to the incident. Visual Content Verification: Yemeni Archive collected open source visual content (photos - video) related to the attack from (Belqees TV, Yemen TV, Suhail Channel, Almahriah TV, Yemen Today TV, Independent Arabia, Al-Arabiya Al-Hadath, Armed Forces Media Center, Aden TV, Alghadye, Yemen Shabab TV, Reuters, Marib Governorate Website, Yemen News Agency Saba, Journalist Ali Al-Sakani and Qail Ibn Qil (Abu Nashwan) twitter account.

The Archive team checked all the videos and photos that documented the destruction of homes in this incident, and took screenshots of a sample from different angles to prove their conformity, as the following photos show:

Photos from Marib Governorate website and screenshots from Independent Arabia and Aden TV

Screenshots from Independent Arabia, Yemen TV, Aden TV and Belqees TV

6 Screenshots from Yemen TV, Belqees TV and Al-Hadath TV, and a video from Independent Arabia

Qail Ibn Qail (Abu Nashwan) twitter account published a video that was published by Alhadath Yemen of Al-Hadath TV on Facebook. Despite the Qail Ibn Qail confirmation that the video was filmed by his phone, we determined the geolocation of the video and the scope of the spatial missile fall. After further verification, we found that the rising smoke range is consistent with the reports about the attack on Al-Rawda neighborhood.

A part of video of Qail Ibn Qail (Abu Nashwan) tweet

8 A screenshot from Qail Ibn Qail (Abu Nashwan) video on Twitter, and a satellite image of Marib from Google Earth

The visual content related to the incident that we can rely on, helps in reaching accurate information about the time of the attack and the locations of the impacted homes. It also develops a comprehensive understanding of the incident and the potential responsibility.

Time

Analysing the shadow of the building that appears in Qail Ibn Qail video, using SunCalc indicates that the time was about 14:35 pm, while the time stamp of the first report by Mohamed Al-Sharif tweet was at 14:49 pm, which gives a possible time range for the attack between 14:35 - 14:49 pm on 3 October 2021.

10 A screenshot from Qail Ibn Qail video on Twitter

11 A screenshot of SunCalc shadow analysis

Geographical location of the attack

The previous video also helps us narrow down the search for targeted homes in Al-Rawda neighborhood in a specific area. In addition to analyzing the visual evidence in the published content and comparing it with satellite images, we can reach the exact location of the homes.

12 A screenshot of SunCalc shadow analysis

Satellite images from Google Earth, simulating where the video was shot from, and the location of where the rocket fell through which we were able to determine the possible area of ​​destroyed houses in Al-Rawda neighborhood in Marib

The many buildings and similarity of evidence in the visual content published in most sources which have limited visual features complicated the process of finding the targeted house, given the similarity in the buildings in Al-Rawda neighborhood.

Yellow stones in Yemen TV video led us to the residential square impacted by the attack. By comparing other visual evidence from the photos in Marib Governorate Website and videos in Independent Arabia and Yemen Shabab TV with satellite images, we were able to determine the attack location at the following coordinates: 15.496869, 45.311413.

A satellite image from Google Earth, and screenshots from Yemen TV and Yemen Shabab TV YouTube videos

A satellite image from Google Earth, a screenshot from Independent Arabia video, and a photo from Marib Governorate Website

The geographical features of the distant mountains that appeared in Yemen TV video and the mountains in the location that we identified by PeakVisor are also identical.

15 A screenshot from PeakVisor after merging a screenshot from Yemen TV video to make sure that the geographical features match in the selected location

The rocket landing site

Yemen Shabab video, and a photo published by Reuters shows the crater that the rocket created in the house dirt yard between the water tank and the destroyed house, with an estimated distance of 3 to 4 meters. That is, the missile did not directly hit any of the impacted houses.

Screenshots from Yemen Shabab YouTube video

17 A photo published by Reuters showing the crater the missile created in the house yard

18 A satellite image from Google Earth, showing the location of the missile landing, at the red circle in the house dirt yard

Possible munitions

Most of the reports indicate that ballistic missiles fell on Al-Rawda neighborhood, destroying several houses. However, a report by Al-Araby TV, quoting a military source, stated that the rockets were Katyusha - Grad BM-21 - often used in the Yemeni war.

Photos published by Yemeni news agency-Saba and Reuters show the remains of shrapnel from the rocket that fell on the house carried by children and the representative of the High Commissioner during his visit to the targeted site.

19 Photos from Reuters and Yemen news agency-Saba

20 An image of all the remnants of the rocket that appeared in the open-source visual content

When completing the piece of iron carried by the child, by drawing a hypothetical circle, it becomes clear that the potential diameter of the missile is of a relatively small size, that is, it is closer to the diameter of the 122 mm (4.80 in) Grad BM-21 rockets.

21 22 A photo from the Arab Army forum, and a photo from Mycity Military website, of the iron connection in the middle of the rocket

After examining the iron connection, we note that it contains spiral rings in the inner part, which means that it connects the parts to form the structure of the rocket, which corresponds to the shape of the aforementioned Grad missiles, which makes the military source description in Al-Araby TV report more probable.

23

A picture of the iron connection in carried by a child from Reuters photo after editing by Adobe Photoshop, and a photo from the World in War website, showing the spiral rings in the inner side of the iron link connecting the parts of the BM-21 Grad missile

Potential responsibility

The type of ammunition used in the attack raises several possibilities about who is responsible for the attack because all the military parties in Yemen possess this type of rockets, and no official statements from any party adopted the attack. This prompted us to analyze the temporal and spatial context of the impact area in order to obtain the evidence and indications that lead the party who launched the rockets.

As part of its monitoring of the attacks on civilians in Marib, the Archive team monitored the fall of a BM-21 Grad rocket on the same neighborhood (Al-Rawda neighborhood) on 3 April 2021, hitting children while they were playing. The location was determined at the coordinates: 15.492516, 45.311906 , less than 500 meters from the site under investigation and on the same horizontal line.

24 A photo from Yemen TV photographer Abdullah Abu Saad’s YouTube channel, and a satellite image from Google Earth

25 A satellite image showing the distance between the two targets of the same type of rocket, using the Google Earth odometer

Another relative similarity is the angle of the rockets’ fall, as the direction of the shadows can be seen in the following shots from the visual content related to the two incidents, which gives an indication that the missiles were launched from the same place, with a change in the horizontal guidance degrees.

27 Screenshots from Abdullah Abu Saad YouTube videos, and Yemen Shabab TV

The maximum effective range of BM-21 Grad rockets is approximately 20 km, and the closest clash site between the government forces and the Houthis is about 14.5 km from the direction of Jabal Al-Mashjah from the site of the last attack. This means that the Houthis control an area of approximately 5.5 km within the rocket’s range.

28 A satellite image from Google Earth, showing the rocket’s range in a radius of 20 km from the impacted site. The blue line inside the circle represents the line of engagement where the Houthis control the western areas of the line.

What is near the target location?

The reports said that three rockets landed in the area around Al-Rawda neighborhood, but what we saw is a trace of only one rocket. According to Reuters, two of the rockets fell in military areas, while the third landed in a residential neighborhood that includes military headquarters of the Coalition. Al-Rawda neighborhood, including the target site, is located between Sahn Al-Jin camp in the north-east, and the headquarters of the Third Military Region and the Special Forces Club in the south, and the impacted house is only one kilometer away from the nearest buildings in Sahn Al-Jin camp.

29 A satellite image from Google Earth of Sahn al-Jin camp adjacent to the neighborhood, and the headquarters of the Third Military District and the Special Forces Club in the city center

In Qail bin Qail video, the photographer says in Arabic after the second 00:00:40 that “three rockets fell in the same place. We identified the photographer’s location as that the headquarters of the Third Military District is behind him, which means that the rockets fell in the area located, between the houses and the Sahn al-Jin camp.

The two sites were targeted several times by the Houthis with ballistic missiles this year, as stated in the report by the Houthi-affiliated Yemen TV. The panoramic video shows the two mentioned sites when viewing the attack sites that were targeted.

A part of video from the Houthi-affiliated Yemen TV video

On 3 October 2021, hours after the attack on Al-Rawda neighborhood, Abdul Salam Jahaf, a media activist loyal to the Houthis, published two tweets, challenging in the first tweet to prove that the Houthis deliberately targeted civilians, saying that they targeted government forces camps describing them as “Aggressors and mercenaries”. In the second tweet, he indicated that the “enemy” is losing prominent leaders and first-ranking officers with powerful ballistic strikes, denying allegations of targeting civilians in Al-Rawda neighborhood.

31 A screenshot of Abdul Salam Jahaf’s first tweet

32 A screenshot of Abdul Salam Jahaf’s second tweet

On the same day, AlYemeni One website - loyal to the Houthis - published that three ballistic missiles were launched by the “army and the popular committees” at military sites around Marib city, allegedly successfully hitting their targets and causing deaths, including killing a son of the Chief of Staff of the Yemeni government.

33 A screenshot of AlYemeni One website

Although there is no physical evidence confirming the responsibility of the Houthis, the statements and news that followed the attack, as well as the fact that the military targets near the site of the targeted homes were a legitimate military target and were targeted by the Houthis at different times, which suggests the Houthis are responsible for the attack.

Destruction analysis

Yemeni news agency-Saba reported that 12 houses were damaged by the attack, four of which were completely destroyed. Eight civilian vehicles were also destroyed. Yemeni Archive determined the damage caused by the rocket in the neighborhood based on open-source visual content to obtain a more accurate analysis.

According to visual evidence, the missile completely destroyed two houses and partially damaged one, while four houses were damaged by the pressure of the explosion and flying shrapnel damaged windows and made holes on the wall facades opposite the site of the rocket explosion.

Two houses were completely destroyed. One house was partially destroyed. Broken windows in four houses.

A photo from Marib Governorate website and screenshots from Yemen TV and Independent Arabia, showing the damaged houses by the attack. Red: total destruction Yellow: Partial Destruction Blue: damage by flying fragments

35 A satellite image from Google Earth of damaged homes, as shown by the visual content of the incident. Red: total destruction. Yellow: Partial Destruction. Blue: damage by flying fragments.

Satellite images from Google Earth (before the attack), and a satellite image (after the attack) confirm the extent of the damage caused to the houses near the impacted area.

A satellite image from Google Earth (before the attack, on 07-01-2021), and a satellite image (after the attack on 01-11-2021)

The complete collapse of the house despite that the rocket fell in the yard of the house is a result of the nature of its traditional construction of mud bricks and timber, in contrast to the large house, which included concrete columns that gives greater strength.

Screenshots from videos by Suhail Channel TV and Independent Arabia

The visual content also showed 5 vehicles that were subjected to varying damages, which were parked in the house yard where the rocket fell, near the surrounding houses

38 39 Screenshots from videos by Suhail Channel TV, Yemen Shabab TV, Al-Mahariya TV, and Independent Arabia

Victims

The rocket attacks caused many casualties, including women and children. According to Marib Governorate website in its report on the day of the attack, two children were killed and 33 people were injured, most of which are children and women. In a statement, Doctors Without Borders, which supports the emergency room in Marib General Hospital, said that at least four people were killed, including two children. Doctors and other staff treated 14 people, eight of whom were in critical condition. Two days after the incident, Marib Governorate website reported that a 7-month-old child died of his injuries in the attack, bringing the number of people killed to 3 children.

40 A screenshot from Independent Arabia video showing two injured children at the site of the attack

Official authorities’ data

Three children were killed:

  1. Ghazlan Faisal Ahmed Masoud (4 years old)
  2. Raddad Faisal Ahmed Masoud (2 years old)
  3. Rayan Radwan Yahya Al Saadani (7 months old)

32 people were injured:

Including 4 women and 5 children (one of the children died after two days):

  1. Asemah Abdul Karim Masoud (12 years old)
  2. Wissam Mohammed Hasan (15 years old)
  3. Hamas Mohammed Hasan (16 years old)

Doctors without Borders’ data

Four people were killed, including two children. Eight people were in critical condition, among them:

  1. A pregnant woman (chest injury)
  2. A child (injured by multiple shrapnel)
  3. Two-month-old baby (brain injury) Doctors Without Borders’ statement was a day before the death of the third child, and we did not find any details or names of other injured people by official authorities.

41 Photo of Doctors Without Borders’ statement on its official Twitter account

On 14 October, 2021, 11 days after the incident, people from Marib city buried the bodies of the three children, according to a report by Marib Governorate website.

Conclusion

Based on the information provided above, Yemeni Archive concluded that a bombardment with a Grad BM-21 rocket on civilian homes in Al-Rawda neighborhood, north of Marib, after 14:30 pm on 3 October 2021, killed three children and wounded 32 people including women and children. In addition, several civilian homes and property in the neighborhood were damaged. On the same day of the attack, media activists and news websites loyal to the Houthis circulated news of targeting military sites of government forces in the vicinity of Marib city by three missiles claiming to have accurately hit their targets, while the targeted homes are located 1 km from the nearest site. In addition, the Houthis Marib city control areas within the 20 km range of the Grad rockets, which gives a context in which the Houthis can be responsible for the attack, despite the absence of physical evidence to prove this definitively.

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