SANAA, Dec. 15 (Xinhua) -- The Yemeni parliament on Sunday approved a ban on U.S. drones in the country after dozens of civilians were killed by the unmanned aircraft, the official Saba news agency reported.
The parliament stressed the importance of protecting innocent citizens from any airstrike as well as preserving Yemen's sovereignty, Saba said, citing a statement of the legislature.
The decision was made after the U.S. drone mistakenly hit a wedding convey on Thursday in Yemen's southeastern province of al- Bayda, killing up to 17 Yemeni civilians and wounding about 21 others.
It was the second airstrike mistake in a week after a U.S. drone killed at least four people traveling on a road in the eastern province of Hadramout on Monday.
Washington has escalated its drone strikes on the al-Qaida network in Yemen since Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi took office in February 2012 after a UN-backed power transfer deal removed former President Ali Abdullah Saleh from power.
The Yemen-based al-Qaida offshoot frequently attack state institutions, the military and foreign missions in the country. On Dec. 5, 12 al-Qaida militants attacked the Yemeni defense ministry, killing 56 people and injuring more than 200.
However, the U.S. drone strikes have mistakenly hit civilian targets several times in the past two years. Human rights groups repeatedly accuse the United States of breaking international law and perhaps committing war crimes.
The nongovernmental groups said during an attack on Sept. 2, 2012, a U.S. drone hit a passenger van and killed 12 people returning from a market in Yemen's southern region.
Similarly, on Dec. 17, 2009, an attack by as many as five U.S. navy missiles struck a Yemeni hamlet, killing what the Yemeni government initially described as 34 "terrorists" at a training camp.
However, human rights groups said a government inquiry later established that although 14 fighters of the al-Qaida group were killed in the attack, so were at least 41 civilians, including nine women and 21 children.
The Yemeni people staged several rallies this year to demand an end to the U.S. drone strikes in the country.