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.


End Syria hospital attacks, Russia told at UN

Updated 6 min 59 sec ago
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End Syria hospital attacks, Russia told at UN

  • Kuwait, Germany and Belgium asked for the hastily called closed-door session
  • Russian and Assad egime aircraft have since late April ramped up deadly bombardment of the Idlib region

UNITED NATIONS: Russia on Thursday opposed a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for an end to attacks on health facilities in Syria’s Idlib region, diplomats said after the latest meeting over violence in the country’s last major opposition bastion.
The outcome led to a rare statement following the meeting by the UN’s humanitarian chief, Mark Lowcock.
“The carnage must stop,” he said.
Russian and Assad egime aircraft have since late April ramped up deadly bombardment of the Idlib region of about three million people in northwest Syria, despite a deal to avert a massive government assault.
Kuwait, Germany and Belgium asked for the hastily called closed-door session, the latest of many they have sought since May in response to worsening fighting in Syria’s northwest.
The draft text, given to journalists, expressed “grave concern regarding the recent attacks on hospitals and other health facilities,” including a July 10 attack on Maarat National Hospital, one of the largest in the area and whose coordinates had been shared through the UN “deconfliction mechanism” that aims to spare civilian targets.
Russia again denied bombing such facilities.
“I provided information from my ministry of defense” and investigation demonstrated that there were “no attacks at nine out of eleven facilities” allegedly attacked, Moscow’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told reporters.
“The two others were partially damaged but not by Russian” forces, he said.
His British counterpart, Karen Pierce, seemed skeptical.
“There’s some interest in an investigation into the Maarat Hospital hit. So I think that’s the thing to focus on,” she said at the end of the meeting.
“We’ve got our suspicions. But let’s get a proper look into that and get a proper answer.”
Lowcock said after the meeting that since July 1, “at least six health facilities, five schools, three water stations, two bakeries and one ambulance have been damaged or destroyed.
“Entire villages have been destroyed and emptied” because of air strikes, he said.
Regime air strikes on Tuesday killed 11 civilians in Idlib’s south, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The region on Turkey’s doorstep is administered by Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham, but other jihadist and rebel groups are also present.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres last week strongly condemned air strikes in the region following reports from a Syrian doctors’ group that four health facilities including the Maarat Al-Numan facility were hit during a single day of bombing.
Syria’s war has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions since it started in 2011 with a brutal crackdown on anti-government protests.