UAE announces pause in offensive on Yemen’s Hodeidah

“We have paused our campaign to allow enough time for this option to be fully explored,” UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said on Twitter. (AFP)
Updated 01 July 2018
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UAE announces pause in offensive on Yemen’s Hodeidah

  • “We welcome continuing efforts by UN Special Envoy, Martin Griffiths, to achieve an unconditional Houthi withdrawal from Hodeida city and port”
  • “We have paused our campaign to allow enough time for this option to be fully explored. We hope he will succeed”

ABU DHABI: The United Arab Emirates on Sunday announced a pause in the offensive it is backing against Houthi rebels in Yemen’s port city of Hodeidah, to give a chance to UN peace efforts.
“We welcome continuing efforts by UN Special Envoy, Martin Griffiths, to achieve an unconditional Houthi withdrawal from Hodeida city and port,” UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said on Twitter.
“We have paused our campaign to allow enough time for this option to be fully explored. We hope he will succeed.”
The announcement comes after Griffiths met with President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, whose troops are battling the Houthi rebels for control of the Red Sea port city, earlier this week.


Hadi demanded a full rebel withdrawal from the city, which has been the target of a weeks-long military offensive by the Yemeni government and its regional allies, led by the UAE on the ground.
Diplomatic sources have said Griffiths has been pushing for the Iran-backed Houthis to cede control of the port to the United Nations and there have been some reports they have agreed.


The Houthis have controlled the western city of Hodeidah, and its port, since 2014, when they drove the Hadi government out of the capital and seized large swathes of northern Yemen.
On June 13, the UAE and its allies, including Saudi Arabia, launched a massive military operation — dubbed “Golden Victory” — to drive the rebels out of the Hodeidah port.
Some 70 percent of imports to Yemen, where eight million people face imminent famine, flow through the port of Hodeidah.
The United Nations has called Yemen the world’s largest humanitarian crisis.

Meanwhile members of Yemen’s army captured 30 Houthi militia as they attempted to attack an area previously liberated south of Hodeidah.


Assad forces target fighters near Golan Heights

Nearly half of Syria's pre-war population of 23 million have been uprooted from their homes. AP
Updated 16 July 2018
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Assad forces target fighters near Golan Heights

  • Regime forces fired more than 800 missiles at an area between northern Daraa and the Quneitra countryside
  • In Daraa, the evacuation deal will hand over areas held by the fighters for years back to regime control

BEIRUT: Syrian regime forces unleashed hundreds of missiles on an opposition-held area near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights on Sunday, activists said, the latest phase in an offensive to clear southern Syria of insurgents.
The regime’s push came after it had secured control of most of Daraa province in an offensive that began in June. On Sunday, the first batch of armed fighters and their families left the city of Daraa, the provincial capital, in buses that would take them to the opposition-held Idlib province in the north.
Similar deals in other parts of Syria resulted in the evacuation of thousands of opposition fighters and civilians — evacuations that the UN and rights groups have decried as forced displacement.
Syrian President Bashar Assad said Sunday the success in driving the opposition out of Daraa embodies the will of his army and allied forces to “liberate all of Syrian territories” of “terrorism.”
In recent months and backed by Russian air force, the Syrian regime has restored control of over 60 percent of previously opposition-held territory across the country.
Assad spoke during a meeting on Sunday with visiting Iranian Foreign Ministry official Hossein Jaberi Ansari. Assad’s office said the two agreed that the “elimination of terrorism in most of the Syrian territory has laid the most appropriate ground to reach results at the political level” that could put an end to Syria’s war.
Syria’s regime refers to all armed opposition groups as “terrorists” and accuses the West, Turkey, Israel and regional countries of supporting them.
The statement came a day before President Donald Trump and Russia’s Vladimir Putin are to meet in Finland. Syria is expected to feature highly on the agenda. Russia is a major Assad ally.
In Daraa, the evacuation deal will hand over areas held by the fighters for years back to regime control. Daraa, which lies on a highway linking Damascus with Jordan, was the cradle of the 2011 uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Since early Sunday, regime forces turned their missiles toward a stretch of land controlled by the armed opposition in northern Daraa and the countryside of adjacent Quneitra.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said regime forces fired more than 800 missiles at an area between northern Daraa and the Quneitra countryside, about 4 kilometers, or 2.5 miles, from the frontier with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
The Observatory said government forces advanced on Massharah, a village in Quneitra, and rebels fought back in intense clashes that killed several pro-government fighters. The pro-Syrian regime Central Military Media said a number of insurgents were killed in the clashes.
The Observatory reported airstrikes in Massharah, the first in over a year to hit the Quneitra countryside. It also reported airstrikes in a nearby village in northern Daraa, where regime forces have been trying to retake a key hill there after failing to reach a deal with the fighters. Capturing the hill would enable them to advance on militants in the area linked to Daesh.
Daraa activist Abou Mahmoud Hourani said an estimated 400 members of the armed opposition and their families will be evacuated out of Daraa.
Pro-regime TV Al-Ikhbariya said 10 buses carrying 407 people left for northern Syria.
The station said the evacuation of nearly 1,000 people was likely to be completed by Sunday.