US tells anti-Daesh coalition to ‘keep eyes on prize’

It’s pressing those partners to refocus, overcome rivalries and concentrate on the task at hand: the eradication from Iraq and Syria of Daesh. (AFP)
Updated 13 February 2018
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US tells anti-Daesh coalition to ‘keep eyes on prize’

KUWAIT CITY: The Trump administration is increasingly concerned the 74-strong coalition it cobbled together to destroy Daesh is losing sight of the prime objective.
It’s pressing those partners to refocus, overcome rivalries and concentrate on the task at hand: the eradication from Iraq and Syria of Daesh.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson plans to sound that alarm at a coalition gathering in Kuwait on Tuesday. His visit comes with the fight at a critical moment and the mission shifting from offensive military operations to stabilization.
Distractions are adding up, such as Turkey’s fighting with US-backed Kurdish rebels in Syria and renewed spillover from Syria’s civil war. Meanwhile, hostilities between noncoalition actors Iran, its proxies in Syria, and Israel risk creating a new conflict in an already crowded battlespace.


Houthis mobilize to fight ahead of UN envoy’s visit

Pro-government drive in an industrial district in the eastern outskirts of the port city Hodeidah. (AFP)
Updated 38 min 14 sec ago
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Houthis mobilize to fight ahead of UN envoy’s visit

  • Dozens of Houthis put on a show of strength on the outskirts of Sanaa on Saturday
  • UN special envoy Martin Griffiths said on Friday that he plans to travel to Sanaa in the coming week

SANAA: Iran-backed Houthi militias have said they are ready to mobilize more fighters to the frontline despite a lull in battleground Hodeidah, as the UN envoy prepares to visit the country to boost peace efforts.

Dozens of Houthis put on a show of strength on the outskirts of Sanaa on Saturday, apparently getting ready to head toward Hodeidah, a Red Sea city home to a vital port.

Men, some of whom looked very young, were lining up with bandoliers around their shoulders and rifles in their hands, chanting Houthi slogans.

Residents said on Sunday that relative calm had held in Hodeidah city since pro-government forces announced a pause in their offensive last week amid international calls for a cease-fire and UN-led peace efforts.  They added, however, that they remain on edge.

Meanwhile, coalition fighter jets on Sunday carried out a series of strikes targeting Houthi positions west of Marib. The strikes, which were accompanied by shelling, came after the Iranian-supported militia launched ballistic missiles toward the city of Marib. Coalition forces successfully intercepted the missiles, Yemeni army media said.

UN special envoy Martin Griffiths said on Friday that he plans to travel to Sanaa in the coming week to finalize arrangements for peace talks to take place in Sweden soon.

Hameed Assem, a member of the militia delegation expected to take part in the negotiations, said that Houthis will continue to mobilize if UN efforts for peace fail to materialize.

Pro-government forces on Wednesday suspended their 12-day offensive in Hodeidah.

Griffiths said on Friday that both the government and the Houthis have shown a “renewed commitment” to work on a political solution and have given “firm assurances” that they will attend the talks. No date has yet been set.

(AFP)