Saudi-led Arab coalition capture coastal area in Yemen from Houthis

(Google maps)
Updated 07 December 2017
0

Saudi-led Arab coalition capture coastal area in Yemen from Houthis

DUBAI: The Saudi-led Arab coalition scored its first major gains in Yemen since former President Ali Abdullah Saleh was killed on Monday when local fighters captured an area on the Red Sea coast from Houthi militias, residents said on Thursday.
Local fighters loyal to Saleh, who was killed by the Iran-aligned Houthis after switching sides in the civil war, captured Al-Khoukha district about 350 km south-west of the capital Sanaa after heavy fighting over Wednesday night which also involved coalition forces.
Houthi forces control Sanaa and much of the rest of the impoverished country.
Saleh had helped the Houthis win control of Sanaa and much of the north and his decision to abandon them had major implications on the battlefield.
The Houthis crushed a pro-Saleh uprising in the capital and shot him dead in an attack on his convoy on Dec. 4.
The US and UK-backed Saudi-led Arab coalition has stepped up airstrikes on Yemen since then as Houthi forces have tightened their grip on the capital.
Residents said Saleh’s killing spurred opposition to the Houthis and fighters known as the Southern Resistance, together with other local militia and backed by coalition advisers from the UAE, launched attacks on Al-Khoukha on Wednesday.
At least 25 people from both sides were killed in the fighting before Yemeni fighters captured the town of Al-Khoukha and a small fishing port.
When Saleh switched sides he announced he was ready to end a nearly three-year-old war.


Pro-Turkey Syria rebels accept Idlib deal, albeit cautiously

Updated 2 min 15 sec ago
0

Pro-Turkey Syria rebels accept Idlib deal, albeit cautiously

  • The National Liberation Front rebel alliance accepts deal reached or Idlib, but says they remain on their guard
  • Syria’s war has killed more than 360,000 people and displaced millions from their homes since erupting in 2011
BEIRUT: Pro-Turkey rebels have cautiously accepted a Moscow-Ankara deal to prevent a Russia-backed regime attack on Syria’s last major opposition bastion of Idlib, while a small militant group has rejected it.
The dominant force in the northwestern region bordering Turkey, the Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS) alliance led by militants of Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate, had on Sunday however still not responded.
Late Saturday, the National Liberation Front (NLF) rebel alliance in a statement accepted the deal reached on Monday for Idlib, but said they remained on their guard.
They announced “our full cooperation with our Turkish ally in helping to make a success their efforts to spare civilians from the afflictions of war.”
“But we will stay alert to any betrayal by the Russians, the regime or the Iranians,” the NLF warned, fearing the agreement to be “temporary.”
“We will not abandon our weapons, our land or our revolution” against the Russia- and Iran-backed forces of President Bashar Assad, the rebels said.
Also on Saturday, in a statement circulated on social media, the Al-Qaeda-linked Hurras Al-Deen rejected the agreement reached in the Russian resort of Sochi.
“We at the Hurras Al-Deen organization again announce our rejection of these conspiracies,” it said.
Monday’s agreement provides for a U-shaped buffer zone 15 to 20 kilometers (9 to 12 miles) wide to be set up around Idlib.
Under the deal, all factions in the planned demilitarized zone must hand over their heavy weapons by October 10, and radical groups must withdraw by October 15.
Both the extremist Hurras Al-Deen and NLF rebels are present inside this planned buffer area, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says.
But the dominant HTS alliance is also widely present, according to the Britain-based monitor.
The militant-led group — which controls more than half of the Idlib region — has not officially responded to the agreement.
But its propaganda agency Ebaa has cast doubt on Turkey’s motivations.
In August, HTS leader Abu Mohamed Al-Jolani warned opposition factions in Idlib against handing over their weapons.
Syria’s war has killed more than 360,000 people and displaced millions from their homes since erupting in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-Assad protests.