THOUSANDS are dying as Saudi planes drop UK-made bombs on civilian targets – but yesterday David Cameron was accused of brushing the war in Yemen aside in the wake of a damning UN report.

Passed to the UN Security Council, the report documented 119 sorties over the impoverished nation which violated international law.

Refugee camps, weddings, buses, hospitals, schools, factories and an Oxfam aid warehouse are among the sites said to have been hit since a Saudi-led coalition began air strikes in March last year.

The findings follow repeated criticism of the UK’s role in the war, which has seen outside forces attempt to drive out Houthi rebels loyal to a former president and reinstate the government of president Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi.

Figures released by the Government show British bomb and missile exports to Saudi Arabia leapt from £9 million to £1 billion over just three months last year. According to the Campaign Against the Arms Trade, the UK has made £2.8 billion since the bombing started 10 months ago.

Yesterday Cameron insisted the UK, which also has military personnel embedded in the operation rooms of the Saudi military, is not directly involved and that the UK is acting to prevent terrorism. However, human rights groups called for an urgent enquiry, accusing Cameron of “brushing aside extremely serious concerns”.

The SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson, who sits on the intelligence and security of committee, said: “We need honesty and transparency from the Prime Minister on Britain’s involvement in the war in Yemen but despite raising this issue with him last week and requesting a meeting we are still being kept in the dark. The catastrophic war in Yemen is largely overlooked, although it is claiming many lives and causing millions of people to flee their homes and become refugees.

“In the third quarter of last year the UK granted over £1 billion worth of arms export licences for Saudi Arabia, despite overwhelming evidence of massive human rights violations committed by the Saudi-led coalition in its aerial bombing campaign in Yemen.

“It is time for the Prime Minister to be straight with the public and the Commons Committee on Arms Exports Controls needs to be reinstated immediately to provide scrutiny.”

In March 2014 the government said it would not sell arms where “there is a clear risk that the items might be used in the commission of a serious violation of international humanitarian law”.

However, the report, obtained by the Guardian newspaper, said 60 per cent of civilian deaths and injuries were caused by air-launched explosives and whole cities had been treated as military targets in “a grave violation” of internationally-accepted principles of engagement.

In the Commons yesterday Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called the findings “disturbing”, asking: “Will the Prime Minister agree to launch immediately an inquiry and full review into the arms exports licences to Saudi Arabia and suspend those arms sales until that review has been concluded?”

However, Cameron said: “We have the strictest rules for arms exports of almost any country anywhere in the world. We are not a member of the Saudi-led coalition, we are not directly involved in the Saudi-led coalition’s operations, British personnel are not involved in carrying out strikes.

“I will look at this report as I look at all other reports, but our arms exports are carefully controlled and we are backing the legitimate government of the Yemen not least because terrorist attacks planned in the Yemen would have a direct effect on people in our country.”

However, Allan Hogarth of Amnesty International said: “Thousands of civilians have already died and it’s been utterly dismaying to see Downing Street brushing aside extremely serious concerns about the reckless conduct of Saudi Arabia in this devastating conflict.”

Under EU law, member states cannot provide weapons to countries where there is “a clear risk that the military technology or equipment to be exported might be used in the commission of serious violations of international humanitarian law”.

France, Italy, Belgium and Spain are also trading with Saudi Arabia and yesterday Scots MEP Alyn Smith asked EU high representative Federica Mogherini to launch an investigation. Smith, a lawyer, said: “We cannot continue sending our bombs to whoever buys them, regardless of their consideration for human life.

“We should suspend our current and past licences to the Saudis until some proper scrutiny is given to respecting international humanitarian law. The UK is the Saudi regime’s second biggest European arms provider. We in Scotland do not want this government to make profit out of selling bombs that are dropped on weddings, schools, refugee camps and Unesco World Heritage Sites.”

Yesterday The National asked the Ministry of Defence about the existence of intelligence about potential terror plots on the UK being orchestrated in Yemen, if the UK has acted on any such intelligence since March 2015 and the level of threat posed by the security situation in Yemen to UK citizens. They did not respond.

Yemen’s capital hit by wave of air strikes

ANCIENT Sana’a was on fire as the sun went down last night after 11 air strikes hit the two millionstrong Yemeni capital in around one hour.

In 2010, the country’s National Population Council warned rising birth rates would lead to a population crisis more serious than the threats posed by al-Qaeda, the Houthi rebellion in the north or the secessionist movement in the south.

Now the country is more concerned with death than life, with almost 6,000 lives claimed by the bombing campaign led by Saudi Arabia as it tries to crush the Houthis and re-establish its favoured leadership.

A ceasefire between the rebels and the Saudi-led coalition failed last month and yesterday tremors reportedly shook thousands of homes after bombs hit the Hadda district, part of the diplomatic quarter in the south of the city and home to schools and a hospital.

The gulf power moved in on Yemen, one of the world’s poorest nations, after Houthi forces captured areas in the west and south, including Sana’a, which includes a Unesco World Heritage Site and has been occupied by humans for 2,500 years.

Now Yemen’s internationally-recognised government has set up a base in port town Aden, where Prime Minister Khaled Bahah returned earlier this week as his administration works to regain power across the country of around 26 million.

Other ministers remain in Saudi Arabia – where President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi also fled – to manage “the more political work”, according to government spokesman Rageh Badi.

Alyn Smith: We’re not the good guys if we keep selling arms to Saudi Arabia

The National View: The UK’s complicity in forgotten, desperate Yemen must be challenged