Yemen: Six Brigades to Raid Sa’da, Militias Dispatch Reinforcements

Yemen

Jeddah – Governor of Sa’da Hadi Tarshan has revealed that there are six brigades affiliated with the national army getting prepared to raid Sa’da and other affiliated provinces in Yemen within days. He added that work is ongoing to prepare brigades inside the city to carry out military actions in coincidence with the army progress.

Tarshan told Asharq Al-Awsat that Sa’da is being purged from insurgents with the support of Saudi-led coalition.

He added that militias have changed the city to huge depots of missiles and arms – militias intended to conceal these arms in various locations especially in high population areas not to mention that schools have become military barracks for arms and training.

Tarshen also mentioned the regular reports that were submitted to the coalition forces and chambers of operations on the depots in order to deal with them in a direct and quick way before raiding the city. He added that Houthis intended to hide the weapons after the coalition stroke a number of Houthis whereabouts and depots.

Commenting on the presence of foreign experts in Sa’da, he affirmed that “Hezbollah” and IRGC trainers and missiles’ experts were seen.

Sa’da’s 15 provinces are not all supporters of Houthi militias but the power of weapon and oppressing people in these provinces have forcefully suppressed the militias’ dissidents who have published posts on social media websites expressing their own opinions. Others were killed due to barbarian torture in militias’ prisons.

This pushed a great part of people to remain silent until the equation in the city is changed and this will happen soon with the progress of the national army and the liberation of provinces.

Governor of Sa’da said that militias transformed the city into a big prison.

Saudi-Led Coalition Intercepts Missile Targeted towards Jizan

Yemen

Riyadh – Royal Saudi Air Defense Forces intercepted a missile that was launched by Houthis militia rebels, targeting Jizan city, Command of the Saudi-led Arab Coalition to back legitimate and internationally recognized Yemeni government of President Mansur Hadi, announced in a statement on Friday.

The Coalition statement said that a missile launched from inside the Yemeni territories was intercepted and destroyed by the Saudi forces.

In addition, the Coalition Air Force pinpointed the launching ground of the missile and hit back by airstrikes.

In a common matter, Saudi-led coalition has also intercepted three Houthi-affiliated sailboats near Midi port in Yemen trying to attack the coalition’s vessels.

The incident was reported on Thursday night, in which the coalition destroyed one boat and arrested the crew of the second while the third boat managed to escape.

Major General Mohammed Almgdashy: Latest Victories to Change Balance of Power in Yemen

Yemen

Jeddah- Major General Mohammed Almgdashy assured that recent victories will impose a new military condition in Yemen.

Almgdashy, in an interview with Asharq al-Awsat, stressed the vital role of the Saudi-led coalition in arming and supplying the Yemeni army.

“How will the army respond to the launch pads?” asked Asharq al-Awsat newspaper.

“Most of the launch pads used by Houthis and Yemen’s former President Ali Abdullah Saleh to target the army have been destroyed – some of them have no effect at all on armed forces and national resistance,” he said.

When asked if there will be any impact on the Saudi border Almgdashy replied, “Saudi forces possess required military and fighting potentials and have succeeded in downsizing the role of launch pads owned by rebels… More than 90% of them were destroyed.”

Commenting on the fact that rebels are now mobilizing Africans, Almgdashy revealed that more than two million Africans are now on the Yemeni territory – Yet, we can’t be certain that all of them are getting involved in fighting activities but some are being exploited by Houthis and their allies to carry out logistic actions.

“What role is played by the Saudi-led coalition in supporting the army in his battles?” asked Asharq al-Awsat.

Almgdashy answered as follows, “The coalition is playing several roles in restoring legality and supporting Yemen in military fields… Saudi Arabia, under the guidance of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, has rescued Yemen from a major crisis.”

“The Decisive Storm was launched by King Salman — it was a transitional phase not only in Yemen but in the Islamic and Arab nation,” he added.

Almgdashy concluded that it is not possible to determine when the army will have full control over Yemen but he affirmed that Houthis will fail to reach any achievements in the coming period.

UNICEF: Yemen War Claims Lives of 1,400 Children

Yemen

London- Nearly 1,400 children have been killed during the war in Yemen, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

“Around 1,400 children were killed and over 2,140 others have been injured. The actual numbers are likely to be much higher,” UNICEF representative in Yemen Meritxell Relano said in a statement.

More than 7,000 people have been killed in Yemen, including children, the report stated.

The conflict left around 26 million Yemeni people in a miserable health and humanitarian condition and deprived more than two thirds of getting required medical care while food became less accessible.

The Saudi-led coalition accuses rebels of mobilizing children and women whether in Yemeni battlefronts or at the Saudi borders.

Human rights institutions also monitor in monthly reports the violations of rebels since seizing the state’s administration in September 2014.

General Ahmad Asiri, the coalition’s spokesman, said in previous statements that militias are exploiting children in return for essential needs such as food and modest salary. Asiri highlighted the role of the international society and humanitarian organizations in taking procedures to put an end to this situation.

UNICEF revealed that children are the major victims of the ongoing conflict – malnutrition and diseases are causing the loss of one Yemeni child every ten minutes.

Another 1.7 million children suffer from moderate acute malnutrition with severe acute malnutrition affecting 462,000 children, the report claimed.

Furthermore, “More than 487,000 children received social and psychological support to help them overcome consequences of the conflict,” Relano added.

She called for halting mobilization and providing unconditional accessibility of humanitarian aid for children all over the country, including zones that are isolated due to the conflict.

Al-Qaeda Terrorists Surrender to Yemen Army

A follower of the Houthi group raises his weapon as he stands on a vehicle on a damaged street, caused by an April 20 air strike that hit a nearby army weapons depot, in Sanaa April 21, 2015. REUTERS/Mohamed al-Sayaghi

Jeddah- Yemen Army affirmed that a number of al-Qaeda members in Yemen surrendered, in response to Yemeni forces call that those involved in terrorist groups but with clean hands surrender to local authorities.

Yemeni army spokesperson, Brigadier Samir Al Haj told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that Yemeni forces in cooperation with the Saudi-led coalition leadership issued a statement addressing those who were deceived and persuaded to join terrorist groups. The military’s call received positive reactions as a number of wanted persons gave in.

“Going back to the right track is still an option,” said Haj, adding that the population of terrorist militants is declining day after day. “We do not support war and we are keen to keep Yemeni people away from harm, but anyone who breaches the law will be battled to protect Yemeni people and territory,” he continued. Forces continue to purge Abyan Governorate of al-Qaeda members and have seized 80% of the region, according to Haj.

Security forces issued a statement that it would grant amnesty to terrorist groups’ members who surrender, following the notable victory in Hadramout province and successive victories in arresting a huge number of top figures in terrorist groups. The statement guaranteed that “members involved in terrorist groups will not be prosecuted when surrendering.”

Furthermore, Yemen’s Interior Minister Major General Hussein Mohammed Arab appointed on Tuesday head of Abyan purge operation Abdullah Naser al-Fadli as head of Abyan police department. This decision was highly welcomed by both, authorities and people.

Major General Arab told Asharq Al-Awsat that the military campaign will continue in order to maintain peace and stability and avert those committing evil, terrorism and murder.

Yemen’s National Army Pushes Al Qaeda Fighters from 2 Cities, About 40 Dead

Yemeni army forces backed by the Saudi-led Arab coalition aircraft killed about 40 suspected al Qaeda fighters on Sunday as they fought their way into two militant strongholds in eastern Yemen, a local official and residents said.

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has exploited a 16-month-old civil war between the internationally recognized government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi and the Iran-allied Houthis to capture a 600-km stretch of Arabian Sea coastline in eastern Yemen.

Hadi’s troops and forces from the Saudi-led Arab coalition drove out AQAP – widely considered the most dangerous branch of the global militant group – from the Hadramout provincial capital of Mukalla in April.

Houthi militants have since repeatedly withdrawn from and then returned to Zinjibar and Jaar, the capital of Abyan and the province’s second largest city.

Abyan Governor Al-Khader Mohammed al-Saidi, speaking by telephone from Jaar, told Reuters that three brigades took part in the operation and that troops have “taken complete control of both cities”.

Saidi said that 40 AQAP members were killed in both cities, while the rest fled. He said three soldiers were martyred and several were wounded in the operation.

“We met with citizens and fighters and both were happy to be free under government authority,” the governor said.

Residents said an AQAP suicide bomber blew himself up in a car trying to attack troops in Zinjibar, a city of some 100,000 people, but no one else was hurt.

Saudi Arabia and its Gulf Arab allies intervened in the civil war in Yemen in March last year as to restore legitimacy to the war-torn country, after the Houthis militia advanced on his headquarters in the southern port city of Aden.

The war has killed more than 6,500 people, displaced more than 2.5 million and caused a humanitarian catastrophe in one of the world’s poorest countries.

Coalition bombing targets Houthis and troops loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, but began turning their attention to AQAP earlier this year when forces funded and trained by the United Arab Emirates launched a surprise attack to win back Mukalla.

But an armed push toward Qaeda-held towns in Abyan and neighboring Lahj province proved more difficult, and militants launched repeated suicide attacks against Yemeni forces.

Coalition Warplanes Strike Houthi Fighters near Saudi Border

Saudi soldiers fire artillery toward three armed vehicles approaching the Saudi border with Yemen in Jazan, Saudi Arabia, Monday, April 20, 2015.

Saudi-led coalition warplanes bombed on Saturday Houthi fighters from Yemen seeking to infiltrate Saudi Arabia, killing tens of Houthi militiamen, security sources said.

The bombing took place on the Yemeni side of the border close to the Saudi city of Najran, they said. Clashes were also seen in the northwestern Yemeni town of Haradh which borders the kingdom, Reuters reported according to witnesses.

The escalation in violence was one of the worst since peace talks began in Kuwait in April between Yemen’s government and the Houthis to end a 16-month conflict that has left more than 6,400 people dead, nearly half of them civilians, and displaced more than 2.5 million.

A truce that began in April has slowed the momentum of fighting, but violence continues almost daily.

Prospects for progress in the talks dimmed further this week when Houthi rebels and their allies in the political party of former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, announced they had decided to form a political council to unilaterally rule the country.

Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, the United Nations Yemen envoy, said the move gravely violated U.N. Security Council Resolution 2216, which calls on the Houthis “to refrain from further unilateral actions that could undermine the political transition in Yemen”.

YEMEN GOVERNMENT WITHDRAWS FROM TALKS

Yemen’s government delegation has quit talks in Kuwait with Shi’ite Houthi rebels despite resuming them earlier this month.

Officials with Yemen’s internationally recognized government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi told The Associated Press they were considering proposals to reconvene the talks, which have failed to bridge the gap with the rebels, in Oman.

Hadi’s negotiators are demanding the implementation of a U.N. Security Council resolution which stipulates the withdrawal of militias from all cities.

Arab Coalition: Insurgency Saves No Effort on Foiling International Efforts for Peace

Arab Coalition

Riyadh- Arab Coalition leadership announced that the Saudi royal air defense forces intercepted a ballistic missile Monday morning. The trajectory was launched from Yemeni grounds targeting Saudi Arabian territory.

The missile was taken down without any substantial damage inflicted; the launchpad was destroyed momentarily by Saudi airpower.

The Saudi-led Arab Coalition later stated that the trajectory was deployed in keep with a series of other Houthi militia violations. The insurgency militias have carried out truce violations incessantly as to foil international diplomatic efforts on finding a political settlement for the war-torn country.

A truce between the warring parties that began April 10 has been deteriorating in recent days, with violations. The conflict in Yemen pits Shiite Houthi rebels and supporters of a former president against Yemen’s internationally recognized government, supported by a Saudi-led, U.S.-backed coalition

On the other hand coalition leadership asserted that any other assault will be confronted and that the coalition will uphold its commitments to the international community and the people of Yemen equally as to render the current peace talks underway in Kuwait successful.

The missile was launched a few days after U.N. Special Envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh announced suspending the negotiations, which will resume on July 15.

Retired Brigadier General Ali Bin Hassan Touati clarified that the missile launched by Houthis are not as advanced as they have been rumored to be.

“Ballistic, is too big of a term for the apparently 50’s OTR-21 Tochka missiles being deployed, which are Russian trajectories modified by Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)experts as to increase target range, making the missile seem advanced,” Brig. Gen. Toutati said.

He added that Houthis have painted the missiles with different color dyes as to give the impression of them being assembled and developed by the Houthis themselves, whilst in reality IRGC units have carried out the modification.

Insurgency militias deployed over 23 ballistic missiles towards Saudi territory since the launch of the Saudi Arabian-led coalition in Yemen. Most of the missiles were intercepted over Yemeni air space, some of which in Saudi air space. The attacks proved high potency of the Saudi royal air defense forces, employing the MIM-104 Patriot surface-to-air missile (SAM) system.

Saudi-led Air Strikes Kill 10 Al Qaeda Fighters in Yemen

Yemen fighters again al-qaeda afp

A Saudi-led coalition targeted the al Qaeda group in air strikes on its stronghold in the port of Mukalla in southern Yemen on Sunday, killing at least ten militants, medical sources and residents said.

The strikes are a part of an offensive to regain the city, as scores of Yemeni troops loyal to the internationally recognized president Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi have launched an operation to drive al-Qaida and ISIS militants out of southern coastal areas the extremists have captured amid the country’s complex civil war, security officials said Sunday.

Mukalla, a shipping hub and provincial capital, is a stranglehold of the powerful al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) which has taken advantage of Yemen’s year-long civil war to take control over parts of the south and east.

Residents said air strikes hit a building that AQAP was using as its headquarters, as well as gatherings of the group elsewhere in Mukalla.

A Yemeni military source explained that the air strikes were being in line with the Yemeni troops’ operarion on the ground. In recent days, residents and local officials have reported preparations for a pro-government ground offensive on Mukalla. Residents also say al-Qaida fighters are holing up in buildings and digging trenches to defend their positions from the advancing troops, and the security officials say the extremists have also laid mines.

It comes as Yemen’s government meets with the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Kuwait to try to find a solution to a conflict which has killed more than 6,200 people and divided up control of the country.

Saudi Arabia and its mostly Arab coalition have launched their intervention in Yemen a year to support the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi against the Houthis, who are trying to win control of the country with Iranian support.

Although the main war is being fought between the Houthis and the Yemeni government backed by coalition air strikes, the military and local fighters have also been battling AQAP, which is also subject to U.S. drone strikes.

On Saturday, government forces battled al Qaeda at al-Koud near Zinjibar, another southern city considered an al Qaeda stronghold, while an air strike from a drone killed two suspected al Qaeda fighters south of the city of Marib.

The Houthis control the capital Sanaa while the Saudi-backed administration of Hadi has tried to re-establish itself in the southern port city of Aden.

Saudi-Led Coalition Confirms Swapping 109 Yemenis for 9 Saudis

Supporters of Yemen's former President Ali Abdullah Saleh attend a rally marking one year of Saudi-led air strikes in Yemen's capital Sanaa March 26, 2016. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah
Supporters of Yemen’s former President Ali Abdullah Saleh attend a rally marking one year of Saudi-led air strikes in Yemen’s capital Sanaa March 26, 2016. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

A military coalition led by Saudi Arabia fighting to restore legitimacy in Yemen announced in a statement on Monday it had completed a prisoner swap in Yemen, exchanging nine Saudi prisoners for 109 Yemeni nationals ahead of a planned truce and peace talks aimed at ending the year-long war with Houthi rebels.

A coalition statement carried by the state-run Saudi Press Agency said Saudi Arabia received its nationals on Sunday, but it did not did not say which group the deal was made with. It said the Yemenis held had been detained in “areas of operations near the border of Saudi Arabia.”

The alliance “hopes to begin a truce in conflict areas of the Republic of Yemen,” it added.

The exchange comes as the Saudi-led coalition and Yemeni rebels, known as Houthis, have agreed to a cease-fire at midnight on April 10 ahead of peace talks starting April 18 in Kuwait.

Several prisoner swaps took place between the two sides since late last year. The Iran-allied Houthi movement said on Sunday it had exchanged prisoners with Riyadh, as a first step towards ending a humanitarian crisis in the Arab world’s poorest country prompted by the conflict.

In its statement, the coalition said it hoped the tentative calm now in Yemen would allow “aid to reach all Yemeni territories” and would support United Nations’ efforts to end the fighting following two rounds of failed talks last year.

News site Yemen Now published a photo of a group of smiling, waving men in white robes and keffiyeh head scarves, which it said was of the soldiers. Reuters was not immediately able to verify the image.

The main battle between the Houthis and the Yemeni government backed by the coalition has led to a power vacuum in parts of the country, allowing al Qaeda and ISIS-linked fighters to take advantage.

A powerful al-Qaida affiliate has seized a large swath of territory across the country’s south and east, while an upstart ISIS branch has carried out a series of attacks.

Air raids killed 14 men suspected of belonging to al Qaeda in southern Yemen on Sunday, medics and local residents said, in one of the largest U.S.-led assaults on the group since a civil war broke out a year ago.

The U.S., while pulling out advisers from Yemen as the civil war there ramped up, has continued its drone strike program targeting its local al-Qaida affiliate, which Washington believes to be the most-dangerous branch of the terror organization.

The fighting has took the lives of more than 6,000 people, left millions displaced and pushed to the brink of famine.