Yemeni forces push further into Houthi-held territory in Hodeidah

A Yemeni fighter loyal to Hadi mountainous area overlooking Bab al-Mandab Strait September 15, 2016. (AFP)
Updated 29 May 2018
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Yemeni forces push further into Houthi-held territory in Hodeidah

  • Backed by resistance forces, the army liberated al-Zaraniq Camp and the surrounding areas in the district of Durayhi in Hudeidah from Houthi militia
  • There were a number of children captured, who were fighting for the Houthi militia suffering from starvation and thirst

DUBAI: Yemen forces backed by the Saudi-led Arab coalition made major advances into Houthi-held areas in Hodeidah over the last week the national army reported.

Backed by resistance forces, the army liberated al-Zaraniq Camp and the surrounding areas in the district of Durayhi in Houdeidah from Houthi militia.

There were a number of children captured, who were fighting for the Houthi militia suffering from starvation and thirst.

Local reports suggested that the army was less than 20km away from the densely populated city of Hodeidah, however Arab News cannot independently confirm this.

Abdulmalek al-Houthi, leader of the Iran-backed militia, reportedly tried to assure his followers that the losses in Hodeidah around the west coast are small.

The spokesperson for Yemen’s army, Sadeq Dawaid, told Sky News Arabia that after liberating Houthi areas, the army was then faced with heavily mined land which it had to clear.  

“Houthis have an obsession with planting landmines, they do it randomly often injuring and killing their own forces in the process,” Dawaid said.

“The landmines they plant also injure local residents,” he added.

Teams were formed to de-activate the thousands of landmines around Hodeidah.

According to army officials in Yemen, the country has been subjected to the “largest mine-laying operation since the end of the Second World War.”

The total number of mines laid by the militia exceeds half a million mines, and that this “huge amount continues to pose a sustainable threat to the lives of civilians.”

International human rights groups have previously condemned Iran-backed Houthi militias for their use of the banned antipersonnel landmines in Yemen that have caused numerous civilian casualties and hindered the safe return of people to displaced by fighting.


Cybersecurity firm: More Iran hacks as US sanctions loom

Alister Shepherd, the director of a subsidiary of FireEye, during a presentation about the APT33 in Dubai Tuesday. (AP)
Updated 20 September 2018
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Cybersecurity firm: More Iran hacks as US sanctions loom

  • The firm warns that this raises the danger level ahead of America re-imposing crushing sanctions on Iran’s oil industry in early November.
  • Iran’s mission to the UN rejected FireEye’s report, calling it “categorically false.”

DUBAI: An Iranian government-aligned group of hackers launched a major campaign targeting Mideast energy firms and others ahead of US sanctions on Iran, a cybersecurity firm said Tuesday, warning further attacks remain possible as America reimposes others on Tehran.

While the firm FireEye says the so-called “spear-phishing” email campaign only involves hackers stealing information from infected computers, it involves a similar type of malware previously used to inject a program that destroyed tens of thousands of terminals in Saudi Arabia.

The firm warns that this raises the danger level ahead of America re-imposing crushing sanctions on Iran’s oil industry in early November.

“Whenever we see Iranian threat groups active in this region, particularly in line with geopolitical events, we have to be concerned they might either be engaged in or pre-positioning for a disruptive attack,” Alister Shepherd, a director for a FireEye subsidiary, told The Associated Press.

Iran’s mission to the UN rejected FireEye’s report, calling it “categorically false.”

“Iran’s cyber capabilities are purely defensive, and these claims made by private firms are a form of false advertising designed to attract clients,” the mission said in a statement. “They should not be taken at face value.”

FireEye, which often works with governments and large corporations, refers to the group of Iranian hackers as APT33, an acronym for “advanced persistent threat.” APT33 used phishing email attacks with fake job opportunities to gain access to the companies affected, faking domain names to make the messages look legitimate. Analysts described the emails as “spear-phishing” as they appear targeted in nature.

FireEye first discussed the group last year around the same time. This year, the company briefed journalists after offering presentations to potential government clients in Dubai at a luxury hotel and yacht club on the man-made, sea-horse-shaped Daria Island.

While acknowledging their sales pitch, FireEye warned of the danger such Iranian government-aligned hacking groups pose. Iran is believed to be behind the spread of Shamoon in 2012, which hit Saudi Arabian Oil Co. and Qatari natural gas producer RasGas. The virus deleted hard drives and then displayed a picture of a burning American flag on computer screens. Saudi Aramco ultimately shut down its network and destroyed over 30,000 computers.

A second version of Shamoon raced through Saudi government computers in late 2016, this time making the destroyed computers display a photograph of the body of 3-year-old Syrian boy Aylan Kurdi, who drowned fleeing his country’s civil war.

But Iran first found itself as a victim of a cyberattack. Iran developed its cyber capabilities in 2011 after the Stuxnet computer virus destroyed thousands of centrifuges involved in Iran’s contested nuclear program. Stuxnet is widely believed to be an American and Israeli creation.

APT33’s emails haven’t been destructive. However, from July 2 through July 29, FireEye saw “a by-factors-of-10 increase” in the number of emails the group sent targeting their clients, Shepherd said.