Houthis bombing mosques, schools and a future

Houthi militia ride on the back of a truck. (Reuters)
Updated 28 January 2017
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Houthis bombing mosques, schools and a future

ADEN: Houthi militias and troops loyal to ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh have been bombing mosques and schools in the Yemeni provinces since their coup against the legitimate government.
Houthis, accused of taking the country decades back to an era of ignorance, are denying the Yemenis a peaceful life and access to education.
Official statistics show that after their emergence as a militant group reportedly backed by Iran, Houthis have bombed a staggering number of mosques and schools in some provinces. They are turning some structures into barracks or weapons stores.
In a recent meeting with Saudi Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al-Asheikh in Riyadh, Dr. Ahmed Attia, Yemeni minister of Endowments and Guidance, said that “Houthi militias and Saleh loyalists bombed more than 299 mosques, and 24 others were severely damaged, besides turning at least 146 mosques into military barracks and storage of weapons.”
Official Yemeni sources said Houthis and Saleh’s loyalists destroyed 1,700 schools since they started insurgency in several provinces in March 2015.
Yemeni Minister of Education Abdullah Meles said recently that about 2,000 schools built under Basic Education Development Program and funded by the US, the EU and other countries, were destroyed in less than two years.
In the capital Sanaa, the media center of the Yemeni revolution, a non-governmental civil media center issued a report that stated that Shiite militias committed 279 violations against the educational process in the capital during the year 2016 only.
The report said that the “violations included five key areas: Students, teachers, schools, educational institutions and curricula.”
“The pace of violations increased during the last three months of 2016, to coincide with protests by the staff of educational institutions against delays in receiving salaries,” the report said.
It also stated that students and teachers were forced to pay money, starting this month, to support the war effort and of the Central Bank, after it was transferred to Aden.
Students’ parents expressed surprise at the request for money from the management of schools their children are attending.
Eyewitnesses said Houthi gunmen visit schools to urge students to donate to the Central Bank and the “war effort.”


Air raids kill 12 civilians in militant-held Syrian town: monitor

Updated 22 May 2019
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Air raids kill 12 civilians in militant-held Syrian town: monitor

  • The militant-dominated Idlib region is nominally protected by a buffer zone deal
  • The Observatory said they have no proof of the chemical attacks

BEIRUT: Air strikes by Damascus or its ally Moscow killed 12 civilians in a market in Syria’s Idlib province, a monitor said Wednesday, and denied allegations that the government used chemical weapons.

Another 18 people were wounded when the warplanes hit the militant-held town of Maarat Al-Numan around midnight on Tuesday, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The market was crowded with people out and about after breaking the daytime fast observed by Muslims during the holy month of Ramadan.

The Observatory said it had no evidence to suggest the Syrian army had carried out a new chemical attack despite Washington’s announcement it had suspicions.

“We have no proof at all of the attack,” Rami Abdul Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told AFP.

“We have not documented any chemical attack in the mountains of Latakia,” he said.
The air strikes in Idlib came as heavy clashes raged in the north of neighboring Hama province after the militants launched a counterattack on Tuesday against pro-government forces in the town of Kafr Nabuda.
Fresh fighting on Wednesday took the death toll to 52 — 29 troops and militia and 23 militants, the Observatory said.
It said that the militants had retaken most of the town from government forces who recaptured it on May 8.
The militant-dominated Idlib region is nominally protected by a buffer zone deal, but the regime and its Russian ally have escalated their bombardment of it in recent weeks, seizing several towns on its southern flank.
A militant alliance led by Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate, Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham, controls a large part of Idlib province as well as adjacent slivers of Aleppo, Hama and Latakia provinces.

The northern mountains are the only part of Latakia province, on Syria’s Mediterranean coast, that are not firmly in the hands of the government.

The Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham accused government forces on Sunday of launching a chlorine gas attack on its fighters in the north of Latakia province.

The Syrian army dismissed the reports as a fabrication, a military source told the pro-government Al-Watan newspaper.

But the US State Department said on Tuesday it was assessing indications that the government of president Bashar Assad used chemical weapons on Sunday.

“There were no civilians in the area,” Abdel Rahman said.

White Helmets rescue volunteers, who have reported past chemical attacks in rebel-held areas of Syria, told AFP Wednesday that they had no information on the purported gas attack.

International inspectors say Assad’s forces have carried out a series of chemical attacks during the Syrian civil war, which has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions since it started in 2011.
Russia and rebel ally Turkey inked the buffer zone deal in September to avert a government offensive on the region which threatened humanitarian disaster for its three million residents.
President Bashar Assad’s government has renewed its bombardment of the region since HTS took control in January.
Russia too has stepped up its air strikes in recent weeks as Turkey proved unable to secure implementation of the truce deal by the militants.
The Observatory says more than 180 civilians have been killed in the flare-up since April 30, and the United Nations has said tens of thousands have fled their homes.