Houthi-Saleh forces ‘killed 30 in illegal Yemen shelling’

In this November 17, 2016 photo, pro-government fighters in Yemen carry a comrade injured during fighting against Houthis in the southwestern city of Taiz. Indiscriminate shelling of populated neighborhoods of Taiz by Houthi militia and forces loyal to deposed President Ali Abdullah Saleh have killed at least 30 civilians and wounded more than 160 in May. (Reuters file photo)
Updated 10 August 2017
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Houthi-Saleh forces ‘killed 30 in illegal Yemen shelling’

BEIRUT: Houthi militia and forces loyal to deposed President Ali Abdullah Saleh repeatedly and indiscriminately shelled populated neighborhoods of Taiz, Yemen’s third largest city, in violation of the laws of war, a rights group said on Wednesday.
At least 30 civilians died and more than 160 were injured in the artillery bombardment over a 10-day period in May.
“Houthi-Saleh forces’ shelling of populated areas of Taiz has taken a terrible toll on civilians,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, the group’s Middle East director. “Their commanders should immediately halt these indiscriminate attacks.”
Houthi-Saleh forces have repeatedly fired mortar bombs and artillery shells from an elevated area in Al-Hawban district indiscriminately into populated areas in Taiz over the past two years, Human Rights Watch said.
The government-affiliated forces of internationally recognized President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi have controlled most of Taiz since March 2016. Local monitors, including one in Al-Hawban district, have reported numerous indiscriminate attacks by Houthi-Saleh forces into the city.
Mwatana, a leading Yemeni human rights organization, said Houthi-Saleh forces were responsible for most of the dozens of indiscriminate shelling incidents they documented in Taiz between April 2015 and March 2016.
A local activist, Faris Al-Obidi, prepared a list of casualties from attacks over the three days in May when shelling in Taiz was particularly heavy, after speaking with witnesses and survivors and consulting logs at Taiz’s three hospitals. The list, which he shared with Human Rights Watch, had the names, ages and dates of injuries for 54 civilians. Among the 14 dead were three children and two women.
Dr. Ahmad Al-Dumaini, technical director at Al-Thawra, Taiz city’s main hospital, said the hospital received 58 war-wounded civilians between May 20 and 26, including 20 children, plus three people who died before arrival, including a child. He said the vast majority of these casualties were from shelling.
Dr. Walid Al-Watiri, the laboratory chief at Al-Safwa Hospital, said Al-Safwa, Al-Thawra, and Al-Rawda hospitals received the bodies of 31 people, including six children, and another 167 wounded, including 60 children, over a 10-day period.
The renewed shelling occurred after local government-affiliated forces pushed Houthi-Saleh forces back from several locations east of the city, said a local activist, Maher Al-Absi.
The areas hit on May 21 were about 800 meters from the front lines while those hit on May 22 and 23 were in the middle of the city, far from the front lines, in “very crowded civilian places,” Al-Absi said.
Witnesses to the six attacks in Taiz that Human Rights Watch documented said no government-aligned military forces were in those areas at the time of the attacks.
Human Rights Watch has previously documented Houthi-Saleh indiscriminate shelling in Taiz. In June 2016, shelling killed at least 18 civilians and wounded 68 others over three days, hitting markets crowded with people shopping for Ramadan, according to the UN.
In August 2015, three Houthi-Saleh attacks on Taiz killed at least 14 civilians, including five women and five children. In February 2017, activists in Taiz provided the rights group with a list of dozens of attacks on Taiz since March 2015 that had resulted in scores of civilian casualties.


‘Hypocrite’ Rouhani rejects war as Iran’s drones target Saudi civilians

Updated 19 June 2019
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‘Hypocrite’ Rouhani rejects war as Iran’s drones target Saudi civilians

  • Tehran regime has fanned sectarian flames in region for four decades, analyst tells Arab News
  • IRGC chief says Iranian missiles capable of hitting "carriers in the sea" with great precision

JEDDAH: Iran “will not wage war against any nation,” President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday — hours after two drones launched by Iran-backed Houthi militias in Yemen targeted civilians in southern Saudi Arabia.

Rouhani's statement sounded a note of restraint after the United States announced more troop deployments to the Middle East.

“Iran will not wage war against any nation,” he said in a speech broadcast live on state TV. “Despite all of the Americans’ efforts in the region and their desire to cut off our ties with all of the world and their desire to keep Iran secluded, they have been unsuccessful.”

But he was also contradicted by the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Gen. Hossein Salami, who said Iran’s ballistic missile technology had changed the balance of power in the Middle East.

“These missiles can hit, with great precision, carriers in the sea ... they are domestically produced and are difficult to intercept and hit with other missiles,” Salami said.

He said Iran's ballistic missile technology had changed the balance of power in the Middle East.

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Before both men spoke, Saudi air defenses intercepted and shot down two Houthi drones packed with explosives. One targeted a civilian area in the southern city of Abha, and the second was shot down in Yemeni air space. There were no casualties, the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen said.

Rouhani’s offer to avoid war was “the height of hypocrisy,” the Saudi political analyst and international relations scholar Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri told Arab News.

“Rouhani is the biggest hypocrite in the world,” he said. “On the one hand, he is saying that Iran does not seek a conflict with anybody, and on the other it is launching attacks through its militias on oil tankers, oil pipelines, civilian airports and holy cities.

“This is nothing but the height of hypocrisy. Who does he think he is fooling with those words? Why are they enriching uranium? Why are they seeking nuclear bombs? What have they done over the past four decades? They have only caused trouble. They have only fanned sectarian flames in the region.”

The Saudi Cabinet, meeting in Jeddah, also condemned the Houthi attacks on Saudi civilians, and last week’s terrorist attacks on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman, widely blamed on Iran. 

 

Confrontation fears

Fears of a confrontation between Iran and its long-time foe the United States have mounted since Thursday when two oil tankers were attacked near the strategic Strait of Hormuz shipping lane, which Washington blamed on Tehran.

Iran denied involvement in the attacks and said on Monday it would soon breach limits on how much enriched uranium it can stockpile under a 2015 nuclear deal, which had sought to limit its nuclear capabilities.

Exceeding the uranium cap at the heart of the accord would prompt a diplomatic crisis, forcing the other signatories, which include China, Russia and European powers, to confront Iran.

The standoff drew a call for caution from China. Its top diplomat warned that the world should not open a “Pandora’s Box” in the Middle East, as he denounced US pressure on Iran and called on it not to drop out of the landmark nuclear deal.

Russia urged restraint on all sides.

On Monday, Iranian officials made several assertive comments about security, including the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, Ali Shamkhani, who said Tehran was responsible for security in the Gulf and urged US forces to leave the region.

Acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan on Monday announced the deployment of about 1,000 more troops to the Middle East for what he said were defensive purposes, citing concerns about a threat from Iran.

The new US deployment is in addition to a 1,500-troop increase announced last month in response to tanker attacks in May. Washington previously tightened sanctions, ordering all countries and companies to halt imports of Iranian oil or be banished from the global financial system.


'Nuclear blackmail'

Iran’s announcement on Monday that it would soon breach limits on how much enriched uranium it can stockpile under the deal was denounced by a White House National Security Council spokesman as “nuclear blackmail.”

The move further undermines the nuclear pact, but Rouhani said on Monday the collapse of the deal would not be in the interests of the region or the world.

The nuclear deal seeks to head off any pathway to an Iranian nuclear bomb in return for the removal of most international sanctions.

Speaking in Beijing, Chinese State Councilor Wang Yi said the United States should not use “extreme pressure” to resolve issues with Iran.

Wang told reporters China, a close energy partner of Iran, was “of course, very concerned” about the situation in the Gulf and with Iran, and called on all sides to ease tension.

“We call on all sides to remain rational and exercise restraint, and not take any escalatory actions that irritate regional tensions, and not open a Pandora’s box,” Wang said.

“In particular, the US side should alter its extreme pressure methods,” Wang said. “Any unilateral behavior has no basis in international law. Not only will it not resolve the problem, it will only create an even greater crisis.”

Wang also said the Iran nuclear deal was the only feasible way to resolve its nuclear issue, and urged Iran to be prudent.

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said the EU would only react to any breach if the International Atomic Energy Agency formally identified one.

The Trump administration says the deal, negotiated by Democratic President Barack Obama, was flawed as it is not permanent, does not address Iran’s missile program and does not punish it for waging proxy wars in other Middle East countries.