Reham Al-Badr: A Yemeni symbol of bravery in a city devastated by war

Hundreds attended the funeral of Reham Al-Badr who was killed by a Houthi mortar on Thursday. (Supplied by Al-Badr family)
Updated 11 February 2018
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Reham Al-Badr: A Yemeni symbol of bravery in a city devastated by war

ADEN: Dalia Mohammed is unable to hold back her tears when she talks about the last day she spent working with her friend and colleague Reham Al-Badr.
The Yemeni human-rights activist was killed on Thursday, along with another volunteer, by a Houthi mortar as they delivered food aid to families trapped near the front lines in Taiz city.
The 32-year-old was widely known for her bravery in helping those worst effected by the conflict and friends, family and colleagues paid tribute to her work in one of the cities worst affected by the conflict.
Taiz has been decimated by a siege and relentless shelling of civilian areas by the rebels since they attacked the city after trying to overthrow the country’s government in 2014.
“Reham was like a bee, you could find her everywhere in Taiz giving goods to people,” Dalia told Arab News. “Those who know Reham, they know the loss for Taiz.”
Dalia said they had been distributing food in the east of the city on the day Reham was killed .
“We were in a civilian car and there were no military vehicles near to us but there were fierce battles going on,” Dalia said.
“Fighters of the Yemeni army told us that the Houthis were heavily targeting the area and that we should not stay together because the Houthi snipers were shooting at anyone.”
Dalia, Reham and the other volunteers with them finally found a safe place where they could distribute the aid they had with them.
As Dalia divided up the water, milk, cakes and fruits into small baskets, Reham and two others carried the parcels to distribute them near the front line.
“At 12pm we heard fierce shelling and shooting targeting the road which Reham and her friends had gone through.”
Worried for their situation, some of the volunteers decided to leave, but Dalia remained with one colleague to wait for her friend.
Reham and Momen Al-Sharabi, were killed when a mortar fired by the Houthis landed near them, family members said. reham suffered severe abdomen wounds.
Government fighters recovered their bodies and broke the news to Dalia. She is numb with grief, but she believes Reham died doing incredible work to help ease the suffering of people in the city.
“She did not care about shelling, threats or anyone trying to stop her. When we worked in the front lines, she always was the first to go and encouraged others to do so,” Dalia said.
Hundreds of people attended Reham’s funeral in Taiz on Friday. Prime Minister Ahmed Obeid bin Daghr, praised her work and offered his condolences on Twitter.
Reham came from Al-Turba, 70km south of Taiz city. She graduated from Taiz University in 2007 with a degree in English and started her voluntary work in Taiz, and in 2011 joined the protests against the former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
In 2013, Reham founded the Nofoodh organization, which aimed to educate people about the outcomes of the “National Dialogue” — a transitional process put in place after Saleh was forced to step down.
Angered that they were not getting what they wanted from the National Dialogue, the Houthis seized the capital Sanaa in 2014 before attacking provinces to the south. In response Reham helped organize protests in Taiz calling for peace.
When the rebels attacked Taiz, her brothers all chose to resist the Houthis in different ways. One brother, Ahmed was killed in the same area as Reham in March 2017, while fighting the Houthis.
In 2015, at the height of a Houthi siege on the city which left hospitals desperately short of supplies, Reham tried to bring medicines to the Al-Hawban area. She was caught by the rebel forces and detained inside a school, which had been converted into a prison, Dalia said.
An airstrike by the Saudi-led coalition fighting in support of the Yemen government, targeted the Houthis at the school and Reham fled.
“But the Houthis arrested her again and put her in the Air Defense military camp,” Dalia said. Again, Reham was able to flee after coalition jets targeted the camp.
Reham’s family said they were in shock at her death and directed their anger at the Houthis.
“The Houthis are fully responsible for Reham’s death,” her cousin, Awad Abdulbaset, a journalist and activist, told Arab News. “They do not distinguish between fighters and civilians — they commit daily crimes because they are fond of killing.”
“Reham’s mother was worried about Reham because of her work, and she collapsed when she knew the news, her father is blind and he was deeply affected when he knew about Reham’s death.”
Taiz has seen some of the heaviest fighting in the conflict which has killed more than 5,000 civilians.


Daesh militants kill 7 US-backed fighters in Syria: commanders

Updated 26 March 2019
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Daesh militants kill 7 US-backed fighters in Syria: commanders

  • Manbij is a former Daesh stronghold that is now ruled by a military council affiliated with the Syrian Democratic Forces
  • Daesh has vowed to carry out revenge attacks against the SDF

BEIRUT: Daesh militants killed seven US-backed fighters in the northern Syrian city of Manbij, its military council said on Tuesday, days after the group’s “caliphate” was declared defeated.

Daesh has claimed the Manbij attack. Manbij is a former Daesh stronghold that is now ruled by a military council affiliated with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the US-backed Kurdish-led alliance which declared victory over Daesh in its last redoubt in eastern Syria on Saturday.
At around midnight (2200 GMT) on Monday, gunmen opened fire at fighters manning a checkpoint at the entrance to the city, killing seven, the council said.

“The caliphate’s soldiers attacked a checkpoint ... west of Manbij city last night,” said a statement published on the group’s social media channels.
Council spokesman Sherfan Darwish earlier said it could be a revenge attack by Daesh sleeper cells.
“After the victory over IS, we have entered the phase of sleeper cells,” Darwish said.
“These sleeper cells are being activated and carrying out attacks but we will foil their operations.”
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor of the war, said the attack was probably the work of Daesh, which would make it “the first attack of its kind” since the SDF declared the defeat of the caliphate last week.
Observatory head Rami Abdul Rahman said it was also the bloodiest attack in Manbij since January 16, when 19 people, including four US service personnel, were killed in a suicide bombing claimed by Daesh.
Daesh has vowed to carry out revenge attacks against the SDF for the six-month offensive which culminated in the militants’ defeat in the village of Baghouz, close to the Iraqi border, on Saturday.
The Observatory said hundreds of SDF members had been killed in attacks believed to have been carried out by Daesh sleeper cells since August.
Manbij is also a major point of contention between the Kurds, who lead the SDF, and neighboring Turkey, which is deeply opposed to their autonomous administration in northeastern and parts of northern Syria.
The city is one of the few areas west of the Euphrates that remains under Kurdish influence after Turkish troops and their Syrian rebel allies overran the Kurdish enclave of Afrin in March last year.
In December, Ankara threatened to launch a new offensive to dislodge the People’s Protection Units (YPG) — the Kurdish force that forms the backbone of the SDF — from the entire length of the border.
The YPG is considered a terrorist group by Ankara because of its links to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), the outlawed rebel group that has fought a deadly insurgency for self-rule in southeastern Turkey since 1984.