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.”

READ ALSO: We Have Obtained The Capacity To Destroy Israel, Says Iran General

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.

Qaeda Attack Kills 19 Soldiers In Yemen

 

Al-Qaeda gunmen killed 19 soldiers in an attack on an army base in southern Yemen Friday, security officials said, a day after deadly assaults by rebels and a jihadist bomber.

The gunmen stormed Al-Mahfad base in Abyan province and remained inside for several hours before military reinforcements came, three security officials told AFP, adding that the soldiers were killed in clashes with the jihadists.

“The Qaeda gunmen took advantage of what happened (Thursday) in Aden and launched an assault on Al-Mahfad base and clashed with soldiers,” a government security official said.

“Military reinforcements were sent… and the gunmen were killed while others were driven out with air support from the (Saudi-led) coalition, in an operation that lasted hours,” the official said.

“At least 19 soldiers were killed and others wounded.”

The other two officials confirmed both the details and the death toll.

Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed responsibility for Friday’s attack.

In a statement, the jihadist group said it had “blown up” buildings inside the base and “withdrew safely”, but did not claim a death toll for that operation.

Security analyst Aleksandar Mitreski said the jihadist actions appeared “opportunistic”.

“Al-Qaeda has neither the capability nor the strategic appetite to open a new front in south Yemen,” Mitreski, a researcher at the University of Sydney, told AFP.

“We may see other sporadic attacks in the future motivated by Al-Qaeda’s desire to remain a relevant actor in the Yemeni conflict.”

AQAP, the Islamic State group and other jihadists have flourished in the chaos of the war between Yemen’s Saudi-backed government and the Iran-aligned Shiite Huthi rebels.

The United States considers AQAP the global jihadist network’s most dangerous branch and has waged a long-running drone war against its leaders.

On Thursday, two separate attacks by the Huthis and jihadists hit security forces in Yemen’s second city Aden, killing at least 49 people, many of them newly trained police cadets, officials said.

‘Intelligence operation’

The first attack on Thursday was a suicide car bombing carried out by jihadists on a police station that killed 13 police officers and wounded several others, a security source said.

The second was carried out by the Huthis, who said they launched a drone and a ballistic missile at a training camp west of Aden that killed dozens.

The aerial attack hit as senior commanders were overseeing a passing out parade for newly graduated cadets at Al-Jala Camp, 20 kilometres (13 miles) from the centre of Aden.

The missile struck about five metres (yards) from the viewing platform and a senior commander was among the dead, an AFP photographer reported.

Aden is controlled by Yemen’s internationally recognised government and its supporters in the Saudi-led military coalition, which has been fighting the rebels since 2015.

The Islamic State group said it was responsible for the suicide bombing on the police station, in a statement on the Telegram messaging app.

The Yemeni government said Thursday the “source and purpose (of the attacks) were the same”.

“The two attacks prove the Huthi militia rebels and other terrorist groups are sharing roles and complementing each other in a war against the Yemeni people,” a statement said.

A Huthi rebel spokesman told AFP that Thursday’s attack was an “intelligence operation” in which “a new kind of missile that we have not unveiled was used as well as a drone that provided support in a big way.”

In recent months, the rebels have hit back with missile and drone attacks targeting neighbouring Saudi Arabia.

Repeated UN peace efforts, including an accord reached in Sweden in December, have failed to end the fighting.

The conflict has killed and wounded tens of thousands of people and resulted in the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, according to the United Nations.

UN envoy Martin Griffiths voiced concern on Thursday about the escalation.

“I call on parties to honour their commitment to peace and put more efforts towards a political solution to the conflict,” he tweeted.

AFP

Al-Qaeda Kills 19 Soldiers In South Yemen

 

Al-Qaeda gunmen killed 19 soldiers in an attack on an army base in southern Yemen Friday, security officials said, a day after deadly assaults by rebels and a jihadist bomber.

The gunmen stormed Al-Mahfad base in Abyan province and remained inside for several hours before military reinforcements came, three security officials told AFP, adding that the soldiers were killed in clashes with the jihadists.
“The Qaeda gunmen took advantage of what happened (Thursday) in Aden and launched an assault on Al-Mahfad base and clashed with soldiers,” a government security official said.

“Military reinforcements were sent… and the gunmen were killed while others were driven out with air support from the (Saudi-led) coalition, in an operation that lasted hours,” the official said.

“At least 19 soldiers were killed and others wounded.”

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The other two officials confirmed both the details and the death toll.

On Thursday, separate attacks by Shiite rebels and jihadists hit security forces in Yemen’s second city Aden, killing at least 49 people, many of them newly trained police cadets, officials said.

The first attack was a suicide car bombing carried out by jihadists on a police station that killed 13 police officers and wounded several others, a security source said.

The second attack was carried out by the Huthi rebels, who said they launched a drone and a ballistic missile at a training camp west of Aden.

The aerial attack hit as senior commanders were overseeing a passing out parade for newly graduated cadets at Al-Jala Camp, 20 kilometres (13 miles) from the centre of Aden.

Aden is controlled by the Yemeni government and its supporters in a Saudi-led military coalition, which has been fighting the rebels since 2015.

The Huthis claimed responsibility for the drone and missile attack on Al-Jala training camp but there was no claim of responsibility for the suicide bombing on the police station.

The Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the Islamic State group and other jihadists have flourished in the chaos of the civil war between the government and the Huthis.

The United States considers AQAP the global jihadist network’s most dangerous branch and has waged a long-running drone war against its leaders.

AFP

Twin Attacks Kill At Least 20 Police Officers In Yemen

Yemeni security forces gather at the scene of a missile attack on a military camp west of Yemen’s government-held second city Aden, on August 1, 2019. PHOTO: AFP

 

Two separate attacks killed at least 20 police officers in Yemen’s government-held second city Aden Thursday, one by Shiite rebels and the other by jihadists, security and medical sources said.

Civilians were among scores of people wounded in the two attacks which targeted the United Arab Emirates-backed police and shattered a year of relative calm in the southern port city.

The first attack was a suicide car bombing carried out by jihadists on a police station, which killed three officers and wounded at least 20 others, including civilians, a security source said.

The second attack was carried out by the Huthi rebels, who used a drone and a ballistic missile to target a parade in a police camp west of Aden and killed 17 officers and wounded scores more, medical sources and the rebels said.

The suicide bombing targeted policemen who were gathering early in the morning at the entrance of a police station in Aden’s Sheikh Othman area.

“Tens of wounded were hospitalised at Aden surgical hospital after an explosion in the surrounding area,” Doctors Without Borders said on Twitter.

The Huthi rebels said the attack on Al-Jala Camp, about 20 kilometres (13 miles) west of Aden, was carried out with a drone and a ballistic missile.

Aden is controlled by the Yemeni government and its supporters in a Saudi-led coalition, who have been fighting the Huthi rebels since 2015.

But it also hosts Sunni extremists of Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group, who have claimed a number of attacks in the city in recent years.

In February last year, twin suicide bombings claimed by IS hit a base of an Aden counter-terrorism unit, killing five people, including a child.

Five months later, two people were killed when an attacker blew himself in the city.

The government established its headquarters in Aden after the rebels forced it out of the capital Sanaa in 2015.

In January last year, the city was rocked by deadly clashes that saw southern separatists seize much of it from other pro-government forces.

A former British colony and protectorate, South Yemen was an independent country until it merged with the north in 1990.

The two sides fought a devastating civil war four years later that culminated in northern forces occupying the south. sowing grievances that persist to this day.

The UAE is a key partner in the Saudi-led coalition which has enforced an air and sea blockade on rebel-held areas and carried out a controversial bombing campaign that has exacted a heavy civilian death toll.

In recent months, the rebels have hit back with missile and drone attacks targeting neighbouring Saudi Arabia.

Several rounds of UN-brokered talks, including an accord reached in Stockholm in December, have failed to end the fighting.

The conflict has killed or wounded tens of thousands of people and resulted in the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, according to the United Nations.

An estimated 24 million Yemenis — more than 80 percent of the population — depend on some form of humanitarian assistance for survival, UN agencies say.

AFP

Qaeda Attack In Yemen Kills Five Soldiers

 

Al-Qaeda jihadists on Friday attacked an army checkpoint in southern Yemen, killing five pro-government soldiers and wounding several others, security officials said.

The attack took place in the Mudiya region of Abyan province, they added.

“Five soldiers were killed and several others wounded on Friday morning in an attack carried out by Al-Qaeda gunmen… on a checkpoint,” one security official told AFP.

A second security official said the “Al-Qaeda fighters used machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades” in the attack, confirming that five pro-government forces had been killed.

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The United States considers Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) the global jihadist network’s most dangerous branch.

AQAP, Islamic State group and other jihadist factions have flourished in the chaos of Yemen’s civil war, which has pitted the government — backed by a Saudi-led military coalition since 2015 — against Shiite Huthi rebels.

Mudiya region, where the attack took place, used to be a bastion of Al-Qaeda at the onset of the civil war before loyalist forces drove jihadists from it, the security sources said.

AFP

Nine Wounded In Yemen Rebel Attack On Saudi Airport – Coalition

 

A Yemeni rebel attack on a civilian airport in southern Saudi Arabia wounded nine civilians Tuesday, a Riyadh-led coalition said, the latest in a series of strikes on the site.

“The terrorist attack on Abha airport… led to the injury of nine civilians, including eight Saudi citizens and one carrying an Indian passport,” the military coalition said in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency.

Earlier, the Iran-aligned Huthi rebels said they “launched a wide operation targeting warplanes at Abha international airport” with drones, according to their Al-Masira television channel.

The United States, a close ally of Riyadh which has backed its controversial war in Yemen, condemned the attack and said it was carried out with “Iranian-made weapons and technology”.

“These attacks are risking the lives of many and injuring innocent civilians,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said.

“We call for an immediate end to these violent actions, which only exacerbate the conflict in Yemen and deepen mistrust,” she said.

The rebels in Yemen — who have faced persistent coalition bombing since March 2015 which has exacted a heavy civilian death toll — have stepped up missile and drone attacks across the border in recent weeks.

On June 12, a rebel missile attack on Abha airport wounded 26 civilians, drawing promises of “stern action” from the coalition.

And on June 23, another rebel attack on Abha airport killed a Syrian national and wounded 21 other civilians, according to the coalition.

The Huthis said on Tuesday they will “not hesitate” to launch operations against Saudi Arabia and the coalition, adding they have a new missile system.

“Our forces are capable of targeting a number of targets simultaneously and with different weapons,” said a Huthi spokesman during a televised press conference.

He said targets include oil pipelines and facilities.

The raids come amid heightened regional tensions after Washington accused Iran of shooting down a US drone over international waters and of carrying out attacks on oil tankers in the strategic Gulf of Oman.

Saudi Arabia has repeatedly accused Iran of supplying sophisticated weapons to Huthi rebels, a charge Tehran denies.

Following recent attacks, Saudi state media have reported an intensification of coalition air raids on rebel positions in the northern Yemeni province of Hajjah and the Huthi-held capital Sanaa.

The coalition intervened in support of the Yemeni government in 2015 when President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi fled into Saudi exile as the rebels closed in on his last remaining territory in and around the second city Aden.

Since then, the conflict has killed tens of thousands of people, many of them civilians, relief agencies say.

The fighting has triggered what the United Nations describes as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with millions of people displaced and in need of aid.