French weapons are not being used against civilians in Yemen, France’s armed forces minister Florence Parly said on Thursday.
Leaked intelligence published by investigative website Disclose showed this week that French arms, including tanks and laser-guided missile systems sold to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, were being used in the Yemeni war against civilians.
“To my knowledge, French weapons are not being used in any offensive in the war in Yemen. I do not have any evidence that would lead me to believe that French arms are behind the origins of civilian victims in Yemen,” Parly told Radio Classique.
Entitled “Yemen: security situation”, a 15-page classified report written by France’s DRM military intelligence agency includes maps that detail the positioning of French-made weapons inside Yemen and on the Saudi side of the border.
The report demonstrates that large numbers of Yemenis live under the threat of the French-made arms, according to Disclose.
The intelligence document states that Caesar cannons, manufactured by French company Nexter and deployed along the Saudi-Yemeni frontier, conduct defensive shelling of Houthi forces as well as back up “loyalist troops and Saudi armed forces in their progression into Yemeni territory”.
The intelligence dossier is dated September 25, 2018. It was presented to Macron and Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, as well as France’s defence and foreign ministers.
The Disclose report was part of an investigation carried out with Mediapart, Konbini, France Inter radio, Arte television and US-based The Intercept.
France is a signatory of the UN Arms Trade Treaty that regulates the international trade of conventional weapons and bans the sale of weapons that fuel human rights violations or war crimes.
UN experts have said all sides in the Yemeni conflict may have committed war crimes.
The four-year conflict in Yemen has shattered its economy and created one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, the UN says. More than 10,000 civilians have been killed and some 10 million people have been driven to the brink of famine.
Germany has imposed an embargo on arms exports to Saudi Arabia over the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi amid concerns over Riyadh’s role in the Yemen war, drawing criticism from the arms industry and from allies France and Britain, which say the move has put joint projects at risk.