26 killed as Hadi forces push Houthis back

Yemeni pro-government forces patrol during clashes against Shiite rebels in Yemen's western Dhubab district, about 30 kms north of the strategic Bab al-Mandab Strait, in this January 11, 2017 photo. (AFP)
Updated 15 January 2017
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26 killed as Hadi forces push Houthis back

ADEN: At least 26 Yemeni fighters died in fresh clashes and an air strike as government forces advanced against Shiite Houthi rebels near a key shipping strait, medics and officials said Saturday.
A week-long assault by government forces and their allies aims to expel the Iran-backed Houthis from Dhubab region, close to the Bab Al-Mandab strait linking the Red Sea and Indian Ocean.
Twelve bodies of Houthi insurgents were taken early Saturday to a hospital in rebel-held Hodeida, a medical official said, adding that the facility received 23 others wounded.
He said the casualties were from clashes on Friday night in Dhubab.
An overnight air strike by a pro-government Arab coalition on a rebel assembly in Zaydiya, in Hodeida province, left another nine Houthis dead, a security official said.
The Red Sea port city of Hodeida lies some 200 kilometers (125 miles) north of Dhubab.
A medical official at a hospital in the southern city of Aden said five pro-government fighters were killed in overnight clashes around Dhubab and 14 others wounded.
Forces loyal to President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi and allied fighters from the Popular Resistance have entered the town of Dhubab and seized its local government headquarters.
Popular Resistance commander Abdelrahman Al-Muharami said the loyalists had also recaptured large parts of Al-Omeri military base in mountains overlooking the coast.
“There are still some rebel pockets” in the base, he said.
The government and its allies in the Saudi-led coalition recaptured Bab Al-Mandab strait in October 2015, pushing the rebels further north.
But the rebels still control nearly all of Yemen’s Red Sea coast to the north, posing what the coalition says is a threat to international shipping.
Yemen’s conflict has killed more than 7,400 people and wounded nearly 40,000 since it escalated with the coalition intervention in March 2015 after the Houthis seized large swathes of the country, according to the United Nations.
In another bid to reassert government authority, Prime Minister Ahmed bin Dagher said Saturday that his administration will start transferring salaries to state employees in rebel-held areas.
Public sector employees in rebel-controlled areas have struggled since Hadi moved the central bank from Sanaa to the temporary capital of Aden in June, after accusing the insurgents of running down Yemen’s foreign reserves.
Dagher said government employees “across all provinces” will receive their salaries at post offices and exchange outlets, state news agency Saba reported.


Libya rivals clash south of capital, causing blackouts

Updated 18 September 2018
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Libya rivals clash south of capital, causing blackouts

  • Tuesday morning’s clashes centered on the main road to Tripoli’s long-closed international airport
  • Libya’s National Electricity Company said its network had been damaged, causing a total blackout across the country

TRIPOLI: New clashes flared between rival militias south of Libya’s capital Tripoli on Tuesday, causing widespread power outages, the national electricity firm said.
The fighting underscored the fragility of a United Nations-backed cease-fire reached earlier this month after days of deadly violence between armed groups in the capital, beset by turmoil since the fall of dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011.
Tuesday morning’s clashes centered on the main road to Tripoli’s long-closed international airport, according to witnesses including an AFP journalist.
Libya’s National Electricity Company said its network had been damaged, causing a total blackout across the North African nation’s south and west.
Fighting which broke out late last month killed at least 63 people and wounded 159 others — mostly civilians — before the cease-fire came into effect on September 4.
Last week, the capital’s only working airport came under rocket fire just days after reopening following the truce.
Mitiga International Airport, located in a former military base that includes a prison, is currently controlled by the Special Deterrence Forces, a Salafist militia which serves as Tripoli’s police force and has been involved in clashes around the capital.
Interior Minister Abdessalam Ashour said Monday that a “regular force” would be tasked with securing the airport.
UN envoy Ghassan Salame later reported 14 cease-fire violations around Tripoli, but sought to play them down, saying the deal had been “generally respected.”
Tripoli’s main airport has been out of action since it was severely damaged by similar clashes in 2014.
Since Qaddafi’s fall in 2011, oil-rich Libya has been rocked by violence between dozens of armed groups vying for control of its cities and vast oil resources.
A UN-brokered agreement signed in Morocco in December 2015 established the Government of National Accord (GNA) in a bid to ease the chaos.
But deep divisions remain between the GNA and rivals including military strongman Khalifa Haftar, who is based in eastern Libya and backs a competing authority.
The GNA last week announced a series of measures to secure the capital and curb the influence of militias over state institutions and banks.