Houthis suffer heavy casualties in Yemen’s Al-Bayda as coalition forces seize key supply routes

The source added that the army foiled several Houthi attempts to move forward. (File/AFP)
Updated 12 September 2018
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Houthis suffer heavy casualties in Yemen’s Al-Bayda as coalition forces seize key supply routes

  • A field sourced confirmed clashes with the militia broke out as the army entered the land mine-filled province
  • The source added that the army foiled several Houthi attempts to move forward

DUBAI: Yemeni forces, backed by the Arab coalition, seized a key road used by the Houthi militia as a supply route into Hodeidah on Wednesday.

Abdulrahman Saleh Abou Zarah, head of the brigade fighting in the region, told AFP reporters that his forces had taken the main supply route, known as Kilo 16, which links the port city with Sanaa.

Saudi-backed forces also re-took another supply route known as Kilo 10.

The roads are vital for the transport of aid between the port in Hodeidah and the capital Sanaa. But the Arab coalition has accused the Houthi rebels of smuggling arms from Iran through the port and has imposed a partial blockade on the port, which the Houthis seized in 2014.

The news came as it was revealed that Houthi militants suffered heavy casualties in ongoing battles against the Yemeni army on Wednesday after clashes in the central province of Al-Bayda.

In a statement issued to the Yemeni Ministry of Defense’s official website, September Net, a field sourced confirmed clashes with the militia broke out as the army entered the land mine-filled province.

The source added that the army foiled several Houthi attempts to move forward.


Russia: Extremist alliance will not withdraw from Idlib zone

Militants in Syria’s Idlib failed to meet a deadline to leave a planned buffer zone ringing the country’s last rebel bastion. (AFP)
Updated 17 November 2018
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Russia: Extremist alliance will not withdraw from Idlib zone

  • Sporadic fighting continued to be recorded in places with a residual terrorist presence, primarily in Idlib: Russia
  • Turkey has designated HTS, which is led by the former Al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat Fatah Al-Sham (JFS), a terrorist organization

ANKARA: Turkey has failed to persuade the rebel alliance Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS) to withdraw from a demilitarized zone in Syria’s Idlib province that was agreed by Ankara and Moscow in September, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said on Thursday.
“Sporadic fighting continued to be recorded in places with a residual terrorist presence, primarily in Idlib… Militants continued shelling western Aleppo,” said ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova.
On Thursday, Turkish and Russian officials met in Ankara ahead of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Istanbul on Nov. 19.
Timur Akhmetov, a researcher at the Russian International Affairs Council, said although there are serious problems with implementation of the Idlib agreement, Russian officials stressed that the process requires time and effort.
“Russia doesn’t want to push Turkey because there’s a much more important thing: Constitutional dialogue between the Syrian opposition and government, where Turkish-Russian dialogue plays a decisive role,” he told Arab News. 
“(Turkish President Recep Tayyip) Erdogan publicly undertook obligations to clear the (Idlib) zone from terrorists,” Akhmetov said. 
“Ankara is also having a hard time with the US regarding the Syrian Kurds. I think Russia will find ways to exploit this situation.”
Turkey has designated HTS, which is led by the former Al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat Fatah Al-Sham (JFS), a terrorist organization.
Under the Turkish-Russian deal, rebel groups, including HTS, were to withdraw from the demilitarized zone by mid-October.
Ankara has repeatedly indicated its readiness to use force against radical groups if they refuse to withdraw.
Turkey has reinforced its military presence in Idlib with armored vehicles and equipment. It has 12 military posts in the province.
Enes Ayasli, a research assistant and Middle East expert at Sakarya University in Turkey, said the most obvious setback of the Idlib deal is that moderate rebel groups in the province now back HTS if there is a clash between it and Syrian regime forces.
“Their focus is now on repelling regime forces even if it means violating the deal,” he told Arab News. 
“Turkey in this sense seems to have failed to separate moderate groups completely from extremists.”
An intensification of fighting between the regime and extremists may cause the deal to collapse completely, Ayasli said.
Meanwhile, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported an increased rate of violations of the Idlib demilitarized zone.