Ship with Iran arms intercepted; dozens of Houthis killed in coalition strikes

Updated 18 February 2016
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Ship with Iran arms intercepted; dozens of Houthis killed in coalition strikes

JEDDAH: The Saudi-led coalition fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen has intercepted a cargo ship coming from Djibouti to Hodeidah port carrying military equipment under the guise of carrying medical supplies.
Coalition sources told Sky News Arabia that a search of the ship Menburt Cedar, which was bearing the flag of the Marshall Islands, showed it was carrying encrypted military communication equipment and other military hardware in containers originating from the port of Bandar Abbas in southern Iran.
The ship was intercepted en route to the port of Hodeidah and taken to Jazan, where it was inspected in the presence of international observers, the sources said.
Coalition forces have in the past seized a number of boats and ships as they attempted to smuggle weapons to the Iran-backed Houthi militias and allied forces loyal to deposed President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Meanwhile, Saudi-led airstrikes and recent clashes have killed at least 59 Houthi rebels, including prominent leaders, with dozens injured, Al-Arabiya News reported Monday.
Clashes took place in the south-western governorate of Taiz, where the coalition targeted Houthi-held areas, according to sources with the Popular Resistance Forces (PRF).
Yahya Zafran, a Houthi leader, was among 29 militants killed.
Sources said six Houthis ultras were killed in clashes in Marib province, and a Houthi weapons depot was destroyed by coalition airstrikes.
Ten Houthi fighters were killed, including leader Yahya Al-Mutawakkil Taha, in clashes with the national army and PRF in Sanaa.
In central Ibb province, sources said the PRF carried out a surprise attack on Houthi militias, killing five.
In Al-Bayda province, the PRF attacked Houthi positions, killing five militants and wounding others.
In Hodeidah, Houthi leader Abdulwahab Al-Houthi was reportedly killed by the PRF.
In a separate development, shelling from Yemen killed a Saudi border guard on duty on the southern frontier, the Interior Ministry said on Monday.
He died during a bombardment on Sunday evening of a border post in Al-Harth sector of Jazan region, it said in a statement carried by SPA.

RELATED STORY: Coalition seizes boat carrying Iran arms for Houthis 

2016-02-16 05:46:57 +0300


France’s Macron sends senior diplomat to Iran to defuse US tensions

Updated 1 min 41 sec ago
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France’s Macron sends senior diplomat to Iran to defuse US tensions

  • Emmanuel Bonne held ‘high-level meetings’ Wednesday in Tehran
  • The French presidency refused to say whom the top diplomatic adviser met

PARIS: President Emmanuel Macron sent his top diplomatic adviser to Iran this week as part of European efforts to defuse tensions between Tehran and Washington, the French presidency said Thursday.
The adviser, Emmanuel Bonne, held “high-level meetings” Wednesday in Tehran, “with the aim of contributing to the de-escalation of tensions in the region,” Macron’s office said.
The presidency refused to say whom Bonne met, adding only that he left Tehran on Wednesday evening.
The strains between Washington and Tehran increased Thursday with Iran’s announcement that it had shot down a US “spy drone” that violated Iranian airspace near the Strait of Hormuz.
The United States has yet to respond.
The incident marks the latest escalation in tensions following last week’s attacks on two oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz, which the United States blamed on Iran.
Tehran has denied any involvement.
Tensions between the longtime foes, who have had no relations since the hostage crisis that followed the 1979 Islamic revolution, have increased sharply since US President Donald Trump last year abandoned a landmark 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran and re-imposed sanctions.
Macron, who is traveling to a G20 summit in the Japanese city of Osaka on June 28-29, will “have contact with the main players” in the standoff, his office said.
Before that he will pay an official visit to Japan on June 26-27, during which he will hold talks with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who recently traveled to Iran to try mediate in the crisis.
Abe met with Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who categorically refused to hold talks with Trump.
The EU is under pressure from Tehran to try salvage the 2015 deal, with Iran threatening to breach its nuclear enrichment limits.
On Tuesday, Macron urged Tehran to be “patient and responsible.”