Saudi Fighter Jet Crashes In Yemen As Rebels Take Responsibility

PICTURE USED TO ILLUSTRATE STORY: A Singapore Air Force F-15SG fighter jet participates in an aerial display at the Singapore Airshow in Singapore on February 13, 2020. ROSLAN RAHMAN / AFP
PICTURE USED TO ILLUSTRATE STORY: A Singapore Air Force F-15SG fighter jet participates in an aerial display at the Singapore Airshow in Singapore on February 13, 2020.
ROSLAN RAHMAN / AFP

 

A Saudi fighter jet crashed in conflict-torn Yemen, the Riyadh-led military coalition supporting the government announced Saturday, as the Iran-backed Huthi rebels said they downed the plane.

The Tornado aircraft came down on Friday in northern Al-Jawf province during an operation to assist Yemeni government forces, the coalition said in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency.

It did not specify the fate of the crew or the cause of the crash.

The Huthis’ Al-Masirah television said the jet was downed by the rebels using an “advanced surface-to-air missile”.

The insurgents reported multiple coalition air strikes on Saturday in the Huthi-controlled area where the plane went down as local residents gathered near the wreckage, according to Al-Masirah.

The bombing raids left “dozens” of people dead or wounded, Al-Masirah added, a claim that could not be immediately verified by local aid workers.

The coalition intervened against the Huthis in 2015, first with air and naval forces and later with ground forces as well.

The fighting has killed tens of thousands of people, most of them civilians, and sparked what the United Nations calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

The coalition has been widely criticised for the high civilian death toll from its bombing campaign, which has prompted some Western governments to cut arms deliveries to the countries taking part.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE have purchased billions of dollars’ worth of weapons from the United States, France and Britain.

On Wednesday, the coalition said it would put on trial military personnel suspected of being behind deadly air strikes on Yemeni civilians.

The cases being investigated include a 2018 air strike on a school bus in the northern region of Dahyan that killed at least 40 children, Saudi-based Arab News said.

 

AFP

Over 80 Soldiers Killed In Yemen Missile, Drone Attack

A member of Yemen’s southern separatist-dominated Security Belt Forces stands guard during a meeting of the Southern Transitional Council (STC) in the southern city of Aden, on January 13, 2020.
Saleh Al-OBEIDI / AFP

 

More than 80 Yemeni soldiers have been killed and scores injured in a missile and drone attack blamed on Huthi rebels in central Yemen, medical and military sources said Sunday.

Saturday’s strike follows months of relative calm in the war between the Iran-backed Huthis and Yemen’s internationally recognised government, which is backed by a Saudi-led military coalition.

The Huthis attacked a mosque in a military camp in the central province of Marib — about 170 kilometres (105 miles) east of the capital Sanaa — during evening prayers, military sources told AFP.

A medical source at a Marib city hospital, where the casualties were transported, said that 83 soldiers were killed and 148 injured in the strike.

Death tolls in Yemen’s grinding conflict are often disputed, but the huge casualty list in Marib represents one of the bloodiest single attacks since the war erupted in 2014 when the rebels seized Sanaa.

Saudi-owned Al-Hadath television broadcast a video that it said showed the gruesome aftermath of the attack.

Body parts can be seen on the floor, among shredded debris, and with blood pooled on the carpet and spattered against the walls.

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The drone and missile strike came a day after coalition-backed government forces launched a large-scale operation against the Huthis in the Nihm region, north of Sanaa.

Fighting in Nihm was ongoing on Sunday, a military source said according to the official Saba news agency.

“Dozens from the (Huthi) militia were killed and injured,” the source added.

Members of Yemen’s southern separatist-dominated Security Belt Forces stand guard during a meeting of the Southern Transitional Council (STC) in the southwestern coastal city of Aden, on January 13, 2020.
Saleh Al-OBEIDI / AFP

‘De-Escalation Cannot Be Sustained’

Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi condemned the “cowardly and terrorist” attack on the mosque, Saba reported.

“The disgraceful actions of the Huthi militia without a doubt confirm its unwillingness to (achieve) peace, because it knows nothing but death and destruction and is a cheap Iranian tool in the region,” it quoted Hadi as saying.

The president also stressed the importance of increasing military vigilance “to foil hostile and destructive plans and maintain security and stability”.

The Huthis did not make any immediate claim of responsibility and the Saba report did not give a death toll.

The uptick in violence comes shortly after United Nations envoy Martin Griffiths welcomed a sharp reduction in air strikes and the movement of ground forces.

“We are surely, and I hope this is true and I hope it will remain so, witnessing one of the quietest periods of this conflict,” he said in a briefing to the UN Security Council on Thursday.

“Experience however tells us that military de-escalation cannot be sustained without political progress between the parties, and this has become the next challenge.”

A year after Yemen’s warring sides agreed to a UN-brokered truce for the key Red Sea port city of Hodeida and its surroundings, fighting in the province has subsided but the slow implementation of the deal has quashed hopes for an end to the conflict.

The landmark agreement signed in Sweden in December 2018 had been hailed as Yemen’s best chance so far to end the fighting that has pushed the country to the brink of famine.

Tens of thousands of people, mostly civilians, have been killed and millions displaced in the war that has ravaged the country, triggering what the UN describes as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Saudi Arabia and its allies intervened in the conflict to back the government against the Huthis in March 2015, shortly after the rebels seized control of Sanaa.

A senior UN official warned Thursday that certain key factors that threatened to trigger a famine in Yemen last year were once again looming large, including a plunge in the value of the national currency.

“With a rapidly depreciating rial and disrupted salary payments, we are again seeing some of the key conditions that brought Yemen to the brink of famine a year ago,” Ramesh Rajasingham, who coordinates humanitarian aid in Yemen, told the UN Security Council.

“We must not let that happen again,” he said.

AFP

Yemen Missile Strike Kills Five Southern Separatists

 

A missile struck a passing out ceremony in southern Yemen on Sunday, killing at least five southern separatists, security officials said.

The ceremony in the town of Ad-Dali was for new recruits to the separatist-dominated Security Belt Forces, a formation trained and equipped by the United Arab Emirates to patrol territory retaken from northern rebels or Al-Qaeda, its spokesmen Majed al-Shuaibi said.

Five soldiers were killed and nine others wounded when the missile hit the reviewing stand during the march-past.

Shuaibi told AFP the missile was fired by the Huthi Shiite rebels who control the capital Sanaa and much of the north.

But there was no immediate claim of responsibility from the Iran-allied rebels, whose forces are present in the mountains just 60 kilometres (40 miles) north of Ad-Dali.

In August, 36 Security Belt soldiers were killed in a drone and missile attack by the Huthis on a passing out ceremony just outside the main southern city of Aden.

The security forces in the south have also come under repeated attack by both Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group.

There has also been a war within a war between rival unionists and separatist elements of the loyalist security forces.

The Security Belt Forces seized Aden in deadly fighting with unionists in August and a fragile truce reached in Saudi Arabia last month has so far failed to produce a promised power-sharing government.

17 Civilians Killed In 3rd Attack On Yemen Market

 

Seventeen civilians were killed in an attack in a market in Yemen’s northern Saada governorate, the United Nations said, the third deadly assault on the same location in just over a month.

The attacks come despite relative calm in Yemen, where large-scale combat between government troops — backed by a Saudi-led military coalition — and the Iran-aligned Huthi rebels has largely subsided.

The UN said 12 Ethiopian migrants were among the 17 civilians killed in the incident on Tuesday at the Al-Raqw market in Saada governorate, a Huthi rebel stronghold.

At least 12 people were wounded, it said, without saying who was responsible or what weaponry was used.

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The Saudi-led coalition acknowledged on Thursday it had carried out an operation in Monabbih, a Saada district where the market is located.

The Joint Incident Assessment Team (JIAT) — which the coalition established but says operates independently — will investigate “the possibility of collateral damage”, coalition spokesman Turki al-Maliki said in a statement.

The coalition did not provide further details.

An attack on Al-Raqw market on November 22 killed 10 civilians, again including Ethiopian nationals, and just days later, at least another 10 civilians were killed and 22 wounded in a second such incident.

“The attacks on Al-Raqw market raise deeply troubling questions about the commitment of the parties to the conflict to uphold international humanitarian law,” Lise Grande, the UN’s humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, said Wednesday.

“Every attack of this kind is a gross violation,” she said in a statement.

The UN says 89 civilians have either been killed or wounded in the attacks on the market.

Tens of thousands of people, mostly civilians, have been killed and millions displaced since March 2015, when the Saudi-led coalition intervened in Yemen’s conflict.

Ethiopian Migrants Killed In Attack On Yemen Market – UN

A photo of the United Nations emblem.

 

Seventeen civilians were killed in an attack in a market in Yemen’s northern Saada governorate, the United Nations said, the third deadly assault on the same location in just over a month.

The attacks come despite relative calm in Yemen, where large-scale combat between government troops — backed by a Saudi-led military coalition — and the Iran-aligned Huthi rebels has subsided.

The UN said 12 Ethiopian migrants were among the 17 civilians killed in the incident on Tuesday at the Al-Raqw market in Saada governorate, a Huthi rebel stronghold.

At least 12 people were wounded, it said, without saying who was responsible or what weapons were used.

An attack on Al-Raqw market on November 22 killed 10 civilians, again including Ethiopian nationals, and just days later, at least another 10 civilians were killed and 22 wounded in a second such incident.

“The attacks on Al-Raqw market raise deeply troubling questions about the commitment of the parties to the conflict to uphold international humanitarian law,” Lise Grande, the UN’s humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, said Wednesday.

“Every attack of this kind is a gross violation,” she said in a statement.

The UN says 89 civilians have either been killed or wounded in the attacks on the market.

Tens of thousands of people, mostly civilians, have been killed and millions displaced since March 2015, when the Saudi-led coalition intervened in the Yemen conflict to back the government against the Huthi insurgents.

The UN considers the war in Yemen the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

AFP

Iran Planning To Attack Israel From Yemen, Says Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to the press at the Palmachim Air Force Base near the city of Rishon LeZion on October 27, 2019. Abir SULTAN / POOL / AFP

 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday accused Iran of wanting to strike Israel with precision-guided missiles from Yemen as he urged US President Donald Trump’s administration to further pressure Tehran.

Netanyahu made the comments as he met US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in Jerusalem, and while he again congratulated Trump on the death of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, he called for “a lot more” sanctions against Israel’s archfoe Iran.

“Iran is seeking to develop now precision-guided munitions, missiles that can hit any target in the Middle East with a circumference of five to 10 metres,” Netanyahu said.

“They want to place them in Iraq and in Syria, and to convert Lebanon’s arsenal of 130,000… rockets to precision-guided munitions.”

He added that “they seek also to develop that, and have already begun to put that in Yemen, with the goal of reaching Israel from there too.”

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Netanyahu made reference to September 14 attacks on two Saudi oil facilities and echoing Riyadh, blamed Iran. Tehran has denied involvement.

The attacks were claimed by Iran-backed Yemeni rebels.

Mnuchin, on a tour of the Middle East and India, said “we have a shared view as to the threat that Iran poses to the region and to the world” and spoke of the US “maximum pressure campaign” involving sanctions.

“We will continue to ramp up more, more, more, as you’ve said.”

Washington has hit Iran with unilateral sanctions since withdrawing from a 2015 nuclear accord between world powers and Tehran.

Israelis have been concerned over Trump’s withdrawal of US troops from neighbouring Syria that many have viewed as a blatant abandonment of Washington’s Kurdish allies.

There are worries that Israel too could be abandoned by its most important ally, as well as longstanding concerns that Iran could move to fill any vacuum in Syria.

Iran, along with Russia, has been backing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in his country’s eight-year civil war.

Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, was among the US officials accompanying Mnuchin on his trip.

Kushner and US special representative for Iran Brian Hook also met Netanyahu on Monday.

Benny Gantz, Netanyahu’s main opponent in Israel’s deadlocked September 17 elections, met Kushner and Hook as well.

Netanyahu failed to form a new government following the elections, and Gantz is now seeking to do so though he also faces long odds.

The stalemate has raised the possibility that Israel will soon be heading toward a third election in a year’s time.

AFP

Seven Children Among 16 Dead In Yemen Air Strikes

 

Seven children were among 16 people killed on Tuesday in twin airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition fighting rebels in southern Yemen, an official and a doctor said.

“Sixteen people, including women and children, were killed and nine others injured” in a coalition air raid targeting a residence in Daleh province, the local official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

A doctor at Al Thawra hospital in Ibb province where the bodies were taken said seven children and four women were among the dead.

The Iran-backed Huthi rebels condemned the coalition for its “continued aggression” against the Yemeni people, according to their Al-Masirah television.

The coalition could not immediately be reached for comment.

Tens of thousands of people, most of them civilians, have been killed since Saudi Arabia and its allies intervened in March 2015 in support of the beleaguered government.

The fighting has also displaced millions and left 24.1 million — more than two-thirds of the population — in need of aid.

The United Nations has described Yemen as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

AFP

Yemen Rebels Announce Plan To Halt Attacks On Saudi Arabia

 

 

Yemen’s Huthi rebels announced late Friday that they planned to halt all attacks on Saudi Arabia as part of a peace initiative to end their country’s devastating conflict.

Mehdi al-Mashat, head of the Huthis’ supreme political council, announced in a speech marking the 2014 rebel seizure of the capital Sanaa “the halt of all attacks against the territory of Saudi Arabia”.

He added that he hoped “the gesture would be answered by a stronger gesture” from the Saudis, according to the rebels’ Al-Masirah television channel.

The announcement comes after a wave of drone strikes last weekend on Saudi oil installations knocked out half of the kingdom’s production and sent shock waves through energy markets.

The Huthis claimed responsibility for the attacks, but Riyadh’s ally Washington has placed the blame on Iran, which backs the Yemeni insurgents.

President Donald Trump and the US Treasury Department on Friday laid out the latest in a series of economic sanctions against the Islamic republic.

Mashat said the Huthis’ peace initiative was aimed at “bringing about peace through serious negotiations to achieve a comprehensive national reconciliation which does not exclude anyone”.

A major goal was to “preserve the blood of Yemenis and achieve a general amnesty”, he added.

The plan calls for rebels to “stop all attacks on Saudi territory by drones, ballistic missiles and other means”, he said.

“Pursuing war is not in anyone’s interest.”

He also called for the reopening of Sanaa’s international airport and open access to Yemen’s Red Sea port of Hodeida, a crucial entry point for imports and humanitarian aid.

The Huthis have been fighting against a Saudi-led coalition that intervened in 2015 to support the country’s internationally recognised government.

The rebels have repeatedly targeted key Saudi infrastructure in recent months in cross-border attacks.

Saudi Arabia has so far not directly accused any party of carrying out Saturday’s attacks, but said authorities have launched an investigation to determine the culprits.

UN Probes Allegations Of War Crimes In Yemen

Yemeni supporters of the southern separatist movement pose for a picture with a tank they confiscated from a nearby military base in the southern Yemeni city of Aden on August 10, 2019.

 

Horrific rights violations, including killings, torture and sexual violence, are being committed with impunity by all sides in Yemen’s brutal conflict, UN war crimes investigators warned Tuesday.

The investigators, appointed by the UN Human Rights Council in 2017, said they had “identified, where possible, individuals who may be responsible for international crimes,” and had provided the confidential list to UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet.

If confirmed by an independent and competent court, many of the violations identified “may result in individuals being held responsible for war crimes,” they said in a statement.

“The international community must stop turning a blind eye to these violations and the intolerable humanitarian situation,” said Kamel Jendoubi, who heads the so-called Group of Independent Eminent International and Regional Experts.

Since 2015, fighting in Yemen has claimed tens of thousands of lives and has sparked what the UN calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Both the Yemen government and the Saudi-led coalition that intervened in the conflict in 2015 to support the government against Iran-backed Huthi rebels have refused to cooperate with the experts.

But they said they had based their findings on more than 600 interviews with victims and witnesses, as well as documentary and open-source material.

 Killings, torture, rape 

In their second report, which they are due to present to the Human Rights Council later this month, they detailed how air strikes, indiscriminate shelling, snipers, and landmines were terrorising civilians in many parts of the country.

They also pointed to violations by all sides, including arbitrary killings, torture, recruitment of child soldiers, rape and other sexual violence.

“This endemic impunity — for violations and abuses by all parties to the conflict — cannot be tolerated anymore,” Jendoubi said in the statement.

“Impartial and independent inquiries must be empowered to hold accountable those who disrespect the rights of the Yemeni people,” he said.

In their report, the experts ask the Human Rights Council to allow them to continue their work to ensure the rights situation in Yemen remains on the agenda, and also to strengthen their mandate by allowing them to collect and preserve evidence of alleged violations in a bid to combat impunity.

They also called on countries to refrain from providing weapons to the different sides in the conflict.

The experts warned the US, Britain, France, Iran and others that they “may be held responsible for providing aid or assistance for the commission of international law violations if the conditions for complicity are fulfilled.”

AFP

US Military Probes Reported Downing Of Drone In Yemen

 

The US military said Wednesday it is investigating reports that one of its drones was destroyed by Iranian-backed Huthi rebels in Yemen, amid heightened tensions between Washington and Tehran.

The US Central Command said in a statement the drone was operating “in authorized airspace over Yemen,” but did not confirm that it had been shot down.

“We have been clear that Iran’s provocative actions and support to militants and proxies, like the Iranian-backed Huthis, pose a serious threat to stability in the region and our partners,” it said.

The Huthis on Tuesday circulated images on Twitter showing a ball of fire in the night, which they said was a US drone shot down over Damar, a community southeast of Sanaa.

They said they destroyed the drone with a rebel-made missile. They also posted images of pieces of an aircraft with English lettering on it.

AFP

[UPDATED] 40 Killed, 260 Wounded In Clashes In Yemen’s Aden – UN

Yemeni supporters of the southern separatist movement pose for a picture with a tank they confiscated from a nearby military base in the southern Yemeni city of Aden on August 10, 2019. Nabil HASAN / AFP

 

Fighting between pro-government forces and separatists in Yemen’s second city Aden has killed around 40 people and injured 260 others including civilians, the UN said on Sunday.

“Scores of civilians have been killed and wounded since August 8 when fighting broke out in the city of Aden. Preliminary reports indicate that as many as 40 people have been killed and 260 injured,” a UN statement said.

“It is heart-breaking that during Eid al-Adha, families are mourning the death of their loved ones instead of celebrating together in peace and harmony,” UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen Lise Grande said.

“Our main concern right now is to dispatch medical teams to rescue the injured,” she said.

“We are also very worried by reports that civilians trapped in their homes are running out of food and water,” Grande added, urging the belligerents to protect civilians.

“Families need to be able to move freely and safely to secure the things they need to survive.

“We are asking authorities to guarantee unimpeded access for humanitarian organisations,” she said.

Firefighters extinguish a fire following the clashes between pro-government forces and separatists in the Mansoura district of  Aden on August 11, 2019. Nabil HASAN / AFP

 

The clashes flared on Wednesday between fighters of the Saudi-backed Yemeni government and combatants from the so-called Security Belt trained by the United Arab Emirates who are dominated by separatists seeking an independent south.

The government of Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi is backed by a Saudi-led military coalition that includes the UAE as a key partner in the fight against Iran-aligned Shiite Huthi rebels.

The southern port city of Aden has been the base of the Hadi government since it was driven from the capital Sanaa by the rebels more than four years ago.

The coalition has called for a ceasefire and an “urgent meeting” between the warring parties.

Both the Yemeni government and separatists said early Sunday they backed Riyadh’s call for dialogue and a suspension of fighting.

But in a sermon to mark the start of the Muslim Eid al-Adha festival, Southern Transitional Council (STC) vice president Hani bin Breik said his group — which is seeking secession — will not “negotiate under threat”.

AFP

Clashes Kill Six Civilians In Yemen’s Aden

 

At least six civilians were killed and 12 others wounded Friday during clashes in Yemen’s second city Aden, a security source said, as violence flares between pro-government fighters and those seeking an independent south.

The fighting erupted on Wednesday and has continued unabated between the two sides, who are in effect backers of the Aden-based internationally recognised government of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.

One faction however is known as the Security Belt, a force trained by the United Arab Emirates, which is dominated by fighters who seek independence for southern Yemen.

On Friday, fierce clashes broke out between the two sides during which a mortar round crashed into a house killing six people, four of whom were from the same family, a security source said.

Twelve other people were wounded in the fighting, the source said.

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) tweeted Friday that it had treated 75 people in a hospital run by the charity “since yesterday (Thursday) night” including seven who were in a critical condition.

“Most of the patients we admitted are civilians and were injured by shrapnel during shelling on their houses or stray bullets,” MSF said.

Aden is located in southern Yemen, which is largely controlled by loyalist forces.

Southern Yemen was an independent state until 1990 and the north is perceived to have imposed unification by force.

The UAE is a key partner in a Saudi-led military coalition which intervened in Yemen more than four years ago to prop up Hadi’s government in the face of an uprising by Iran-aligned Shiite Huthi rebels.

The Huthis control parts of northern and western Yemen, including the capital Sanaa.