Houthi militia using Yemeni prisoners as human shields, rights group claims

File photo showing Houthi militants raising their weapons in defiance of a UN arms embargo, Apr 16, 2015. (Reuters)
Updated 04 March 2018
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Houthi militia using Yemeni prisoners as human shields, rights group claims

Yemeni detainees are being used as human shields at Houthi militia prisons, the International Association for Peace and Human Rights (IAPHR) has claimed.

The human rights group outlined two reports on the Houthi coup in Yemen and its humanitarian impact on Yemeni civilians at a seminar at the United Nations in Geneva on March 3.

Hamdan Zaid Dammaj, vice president of the IAPHR’s Yemeni Organization for Studies and Research, said there were 1,202 documented incidents of Yemeni detainees being used as human shields at 59 detention centers throughout the country.

Detention centers included schools, residential facilities and sports clubs that had been turned into military barracks by Houthi militia, he said.

Dammaj said the detainees were government supporters, including media activists, politicians from the Reform Party, as well as 130 intellectuals and 181 military personnel.

President of the World Federation of Yemeni Communities Abroad, Dr. Hiaf Ali, said the Houthi militia’s practices violated all international charters. The IAPHR is working to have militia classified as a terror group, he said.

Ali said at least 8 million Yemenis were facing famine because of the coup. More than 10 million Yemenis relied on money sent from abroad, mainly in Saudi Arabia, an important support conduit to the Yemeni economy.

The Geneva-based IAPHR was established five months ago and includes human rights groups in Switzerland, the UK, the Netherlands and Sweden. It monitors and documents human rights violations, particularly in Yemen, and contributes to humanitarian and relief work, and the training of human rights workers.


Syria media says no attack on airport after reported air defense fire

Syrian pro-government forces hold a position near the village of al-Malihah, in the northern countryside of Deir Ezzor, on September 9, 2017, during the ongoing battle against Daesh group. (AFP)
Updated 40 min 23 sec ago
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Syria media says no attack on airport after reported air defense fire

  • The accidental downing of a Russian transport aircraft by Syrian ground batteries during an Israel air strike on September 17 killed 15 service personnel

DAMASCUS: Syrian state media said Sunday that air defenses had opened fire near Damascus airport, before withdrawing the report after what appeared to be a false alarm.
“Our air defenses engaged hostile aerial targets in the vicinity of Damascus International Airport,” the official SANA news agency said, without providing more details.
But the report was later withdrawn by both SANA and state television without explanation.
SANA then quoted sources at the airport as saying that “there was no aggression” and that “traffic was normal.”
A well-informed source told AFP that “there was evidently a false alarm.”
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the sound of explosions rocked an area close to the airport and fire from air defenses was also heard.
The latest incident comes just over a week after Syria accused Israel of striking south of the capital.
The Britain-based Observatory said those were the first missiles to hit Syria since an air defense upgrade after the downing of a Russian plane in September.
Israel has carried out hundreds of air strikes in neighboring Syria against what it says are Iranian targets, many of them in the area south of Damascus.
Iran and Russia are the government’s key allies in the civil war that has raged Syria since 2011, and Moscow’s intervention in 2015 dramatically turned the tables against the rebels.
The accidental downing of a Russian transport aircraft by Syrian ground batteries during an Israel air strike on September 17 killed 15 service personnel.
Moscow pinned responsibility for the downing on Israel, saying its fighter jet used the larger Russian one for cover, an allegation Israel disputed.
Russia subsequently upgraded Syrian air defenses with the delivery of the advanced S-300 system, which Damascus insisted would make Israel “think carefully” before carrying out further air raids.
The move raised fears in Israel that its ability to rein in its arch foe Iran’s military presence in Syria would be sharply reduced.
But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Russia that Israel would continue to hit hostile targets, while also maintaining “security coordination” with Moscow.