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.

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