Jeddah, Washington-Yemeni informed sources confirmed that there are Iraqi officers in a number of Yemeni cities, particularly in Tihamah Province.
Sources added that these officers are developing war plans for Houthi militants and their allies, who are loyal to the ousted former President, Ali Abdullah Saleh.
An official source told Asharq Al-Awsat that these officers are affiliated with Iraqi Ba’ath Party, and that they are participating in Yemen following a request from Saleh before the outbreak of the revolution in 2011.
According to the source, these officers provide consultations, yet their roles have altered with the Yemeni situation changing and becoming even worse than before. Today, these officers put war strategies and provide military consultations in districts and provinces that fall under the control of Houthi militias and Saleh’s forces.
The source added that these Iraqi officers were moving easily in Yemeni provinces before launching the “Decisive Storm”. However, the National Army’s progress on all fronts in the north and center and the liberation of many Yemeni directorates have negatively affected their movements and restricted them to Sanaa and few other locations.
The source also explained that the Iraqi officers in Yemen replaced the 15 Iranian experts who were arrested by the Yemeni Government.
The Yemeni official confirmed that his government will decisively deal with all foreigners involved in military operations, and it will pursue them legally.
In a common matter, White House spokesman Josh Earnest on Thursday welcomed a statement that the year-old Saudi war on Yemen was nearing the “end of the major combat phase.”
“We have expressed our concerns about the loss of innocent life in Yemen, the violence there that is plaguing that country has caught too many innocent civilians in the crossfire,” Earnest said.
“We would welcome and do welcome the statement from Saudi-led coalition spokesperson Saudi General Ahmed al-Assiri who indicated on Thursday that major operations in Yemen are coming to an end and that the coalition will work on ‘long-term plans’ to bring stability to the country.”
“We have long made the case that Yemen is in dire need of a political solution, and that that political solution needs to come as soon as possible,” Earnest added. “That’s why we have continued to urge all parties return to UN facilitated peace talks.”
On the other hand al-Asiri earlier told AFP in a press conference, “we are in the end of the major combat phase”, adding that Riyadh wants to ensure a stable security before helping with the reconstruction of the country.
Al-Assiri also said that “in any military campaign you have phases.” “Today,” he said, “we are in the end of the major combat phase.”
“The aim of the coalition is to create a strong cohesive government with a strong national army and security forces that can combat terrorism and impose law and order across the country,” al-Asiri added.
He also emphasized that the coalition’s primary duty is to build a Yemeni army. “This takes time and it needs patience,” he said.