Houthi defector says Iranian-backed militia committed ‘heinous crimes’ against Yemeni people

Abdelsalam Jaber said the Houthis would soon face defeat. (File/AFP)
Updated 12 November 2018
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Houthi defector says Iranian-backed militia committed ‘heinous crimes’ against Yemeni people

  • Abdelsalam Jaber says Houthis turned state institutions into warring islands
  • Jaber is the most senior member of the Houthi militia to defect since the war began

DUBAI: Houthi militias, backed by Iran, have committed "heinous crimes" against the people of Yemen, the militia's propaganda chief who deserted the group on Friday has said.

Abdelsalem Jaber said conditions are ripe for the “swift completion of the process of liberation” of Yemen from the control of the Houthis.

Speaking at a news conference in Riyadh on Sunday, Jaber, the self-styled information minister, accused the Houthis of a long list of misdeeds, including turning state institutions into warring islands ruled by militias.

“Detainees in Houthi prisons are being treated inhumanely,” Jaber said, adding that what was happening in Houthi-controlled areas “is the work of militias” that have competing “centers of power.”

Jaber is the most senior member of the Houthi militia to defect to the government side since the Yemeni war began in 2014.

Jaber arrived in Saudi Arabia with his family after fleeing the capital Sanaa, Moammer al-Iryani, information minister of the Yemeni government, said on Saturday.

Confirming the longstanding allegations that the Houthis were being aided by Iran and other countries, Jaber said Yemenis reject “the foreign domination of the country.”

Jaber said the Houthis’ dominance was in its final days, adding that the “Yemeni people have rejected Houthi injustices and are waiting for an opportunity to get rid of them.”

Jaber’s defection comes against a backdrop of continued clashes in the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah, a key facility that Yemeni government forces backed by a Saudi-led coalition are seeking to retake from the Houthis.

Fighting has flared in Hodeidah’s east between the Houthis and government forces backed by air strikes and helicopters.

“The battles here are turning into street fighting,” a government official said on Saturday.

Government forces on Saturday recovered control of the May 22 Hospital as part of the offensive.

Amnesty International, the international human-rights watchdog group, has accused the Houthis of “deliberate militarization” of the hospital after they deployed snipers on its roof.


Iraqi forces launch anti-Daesh operation north of Baghdad

Updated 23 min 7 sec ago
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Iraqi forces launch anti-Daesh operation north of Baghdad

  • The mainly Shiite PMF have been an effective force against Daesh
  • This is the second phase of the operation dubbed “Will to Victory”

BAGHDAD: Iraq’s military said Saturday its troops in partnership with security agencies and paramilitary forces launched the second phase of an operation aimed at clearing remnants of the Daesh group from north of Baghdad and surrounding areas.
This is the second phase of the operation dubbed “Will to Victory,” which started two weeks earlier and targeted the area along the border with Syria. The military said the new target area is north of Baghdad and in the Diyala, Salahuddin and Anbar provinces.
Although Iraq declared victory against Daesh in July 2017, the extremists have turned into an insurgency and continue to carry out deadly attacks in the country.
The military said Iraqi troops, Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Forces, the federal police and others are taking part in the operation supported by the Iraqis and the U.S-led international coalition.
On Saturday, Iraq’s Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi visited the operation room alongside the deputy head of the PMF, Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis.
Earlier this month, the Iraqi government moved to place the Iranian-backed militias under the command of the armed forces. The move was believed to be an attempt to curb the powerful militias, particularly amid rising tension between Iran and the US, the power brokers in Iraq.
The mainly Shiite PMF have been an effective force against Daesh and are a significant political force, with government ministers and 48 seats in the 329-member parliament.