Yemen PM seeks reconciliation after deadly Aden clashes

A young Yemeni boy living in a camp for people displaced by his country’s war holds a box of aid from Saudi Arabia in Marib, Yemen. (AP)
Updated 07 February 2018
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Yemen PM seeks reconciliation after deadly Aden clashes

ADEN: Yemen’s prime minister appealed on Wednesday for reconciliation with southern separatists after deadly clashes last month in which they seized almost all of Aden where his government has its base.
Security sources told AFP that separatists have lifted their siege of the presidential palace and handed back three military camps to government troops. But they remain in control of the rest of Yemen’s second city as well as swathes of neighboring provinces.
Prime Minister Ahmed bin Dagher called for an end to the infighting between the rival sides, which had previously fought together against Iran-backed Houthi militias who control the capital Sanaa and much of the north.
“The mission today is to bridge the gap, heal the wounds and abandon political escalation,” Dagher told the first Cabinet meeting since the fighting.
“Based on directives from the president, we will work for social reconciliation in Aden and neighboring provinces to pave the way for comprehensive national reconciliation,” government-run media quoted him as saying.
President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who is based in Saudi Arabia, has struggled to keep together a disparate loyalist alliance, which has relied heavily on southern separatist forces.
South Yemen was an independent country until its unification with the north in 1990.
On Tuesday, forces loyal to the country’s internationally recognized government recaptured a key crossroads town in the southwestern province of Hodeidah in an effort to cut off supply lines to the Houthi militias.
The officials said on Tuesday that forces backed by airstrikes from the Saudi coalition have taken control of the town of Hays after two weeks of fierce fighting against the militias.


UN: Threat to Idlib civilians remains high

Kurd demonstrators stage a protest rally in Syria’s western Afrin region bordering Turkey. (AFP)
Updated 3 min 31 sec ago
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UN: Threat to Idlib civilians remains high

  • Egeland: Russia, Turkey ‘still working out deal on demilitarized buffer zone’
  • Russia stressed it would continue operating against fighters it identifies as terrorists

The deal to avoid a Syrian regime offensive on Idlib province is still being worked out by Russia and Turkey, the UN said on Thursday, stressing that the threat to civilians remained high.

“This is not a peace deal. It is an aversion of (a) whole-scale-war deal,” the head of the UN Humanitarian Taskforce for Syria, Jan Egeland, said in Geneva.

Syrian regime ally Russia and rebel supporter Turkey reached an agreement to create a demilitarized buffer zone in Idlib, Syria’s last opposition bastion, where half of its 3 million residents have been displaced from areas retaken by Syrian forces.

While briefing the task force about the pact on Thursday, Russian and Turkish envoys made clear they “are still working... on the details,” Egeland said.

He expressed hope it was an indication that “the big war was averted” in Idlib, although Russia stressed it would continue operating against fighters it identifies as terrorists.

“I see a great potential for a lot of fighting,” Egeland said. 

“We are concerned for the civilians in these areas, so it is not over.”

The UN has repeatedly warned that a full-scale assault on Idlib could trigger the bloodiest episode of Syria’s seven-year war, which has killed more than 360,000 people and displaced millions.

Despite the ongoing concerns, Egeland said he was “relieved” for now.

“The outcome here was the least bad of (the) realistic solutions,” he said.

The leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia has welcomed the Russian-Turkey agreement agreement signed in Sochi, calling it a “step on the road to making a political solution possible.”

Hassan Nasrallah said his group may reduce the number of its fighters in Syria because of an easing of the conflict, particularly after the recent agreement.  

It “will take Syria in the next weeks and months to a new phase,” Nasrallah said in a televised speech to supporters. 

He said the deal’s success will depend whether it’s properly implemented. “We will remain there even after the Idlib accord,” Nasrallah said.

“We will stay until further notice,” he stressed.

On Thursday, Nasrallah said Hezbollah had acquired “precision missiles” despite extensive efforts by Israel to prevent the movement developing this capability.

“It has been done. The resistance now owns precision missiles” as part of its weaponry, Nasrallah said in a televised address.

“Attempts in Syria to block the way toward this (missile) capability” have failed, Nasrallah said.

“If Israel imposes a war on Lebanon, it will face a fate that it never would have expected.”

Israel has fought several conflicts against Hezbollah, the last in 2006.

The Israeli military believes Hezbollah has between 100,000 and 120,000 short-range missiles and rockets, as well as several hundred longer-range missiles.