LONDON, Dec. 19 (UPI) -- The Saudi government announced Monday it would end the "limited" use of British-made cluster bombs against rebels in Yemen after weeks of denying their use.
The rebels are fighting a coalition of Arab countries led by Saudi Arabia. Britain is involved in training Saudi troops, and sources told The Guardian the British government has been aware of the British-made cluster bombs for over a month.
The Saudi government denied the allegations for weeks, saying the bombs in question are munitions left over from prior conflicts but Monday announced it would cease use of the British-made bombs. In a statement, it admitted that "there was limited use by the coalition of the U.K.-manufactured BL-755 cluster munitions in Yemen," pointing out the armaments were used to defend towns under assault by rebels and not deployed in civilian population centers.
Britain signed the Cluster Munitions Convention treaty in 2010, banning the use of the weapon, which leaves small bombs that can explode later and injure civilian populations. The treaty commits Britain to dispose of all such weapons. Saudi Arabia is not a signatory to the treaty.
The prime minister of the rebel government in Sanaa, Yemen, accused the British government of war crimes last week.
"They have sold cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia," Abdulaziz bin Habtour told Sky News. They know the Saudis are going to drop them on Yemen ... in Sa'adah and in Sanaa and other provinces. I don't think they are guilty of war crimes, I believe so. They are participating in the bombing of Yemen people."
The United States scrapped a plan last week to sell precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia last week.