Saudi Arabia denied Wednesday that it had issued American-made weapons to Sudanese soldiers in Yemen, disputing statements made by five of the soldiers and reported last week in The New York Times.
In an article about Sudanese soldiers fighting for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, five Sudanese fighters who had returned from the conflict said that at training camps in Saudi Arabia they had been issued “modern” weapons that were unfamiliar to them and that they believed to be American-made.
In a statement on Wednesday, Saudi Arabia said an examination determined that American-made weapons had “never been distributed to personnel participating from Sudan as part of the coalition’s operations.”
The kingdom has not disclosed what weapons it distributed to the Sudanese fighters or where those weapons originated.
The five Sudanese fighters and a sixth who was about to depart for Yemen also said that their units had included many boys between the ages of 14 and 18. One of the fighters, Hager Shomo Ahmed, who turned 16 in December, said that he had fought for the Saudi coalition in Yemen in 2017 at the age of 14.
A spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition quoted in the article, Turki al-Malki, denied the presence of any children among its forces, calling those assertions “fictitious and unfounded.”
The Saudi statement on Wednesday reiterated that denial. “The kingdom examined the records of all military personnel that have been deployed through Saudi Arabia as part of military operations in Yemen and has determined that there are no underage personnel,” the statement said.
The statement said that critics should focus on the Saudi enemy in Yemen, the Iran-allied Houthis, whose “forced recruitment of children is well documented by international organizations.”
Source : Nytimes