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Secretary of Defense James Mattis let it be known he did not like the framing of a question from a reporter who asked if children deaths, in places like Yemen, from American-made weapons are acceptable.
“At what point [does it] become unacceptable for Yemeni children and innocent civilians to be killed with American weapons,” a reporter from Al Jazeera asked.
“That's a strange way to characterize the question, being that we didn't start the war,” Mattis interjected. “And I think we have to look at here is probably can we get this to the U.N. brokered peace table that the U.N. special envoy is trying to get it to.”
“That is the goal. That doesn't change no matter what tragedy happens on the battlefield,” he continued. “If what we've done in the past had reduce the loss of innocent life, then I would not want to stop doing that and think 'There we took care of that problem' and watch that number go up.”
When asked if the support for the Saudi Arabia coalition was unconditional, Mattis answered with a hard no.
The condition for the United States' continued support is that Saudi Arabia do “everything humanly possible to avoid any innocent loss of life and they support the U.N. brokered peace process.”
Watch the video below at 54:20:
The question was spurred after an American-made bomb was used to target a bus carrying Yemeni children. Forty of them died as a result.
The New York Times reports Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, Commander of U.S. Air Forces Central Command, said the Saudi-led coalition needs to be more transparent in the investigation into the bombing.
“There’s a level of frustration we need to acknowledge,” Harrigian said. “They need to come out and say what occurred there.”
“Clearly, we’re concerned about civilian casualties, and they know about our concern,” he added.