UN ‘alarmed’ over renewed Yemen violence after drone attack

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Yemeni security forces loyal to the Houthis stand guard during a demonstration outside the United Nations office in the capital Sanaa on December 10, 2018. (File/AFP)
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UN envoy Martin Griffiths has urged all parties to Yemen’s protracted conflict to exercise restraint. (AFP)
Updated 11 January 2019

UN ‘alarmed’ over renewed Yemen violence after drone attack

  • A Houthi drone attacked a Yemeni government military parade in Lahaj province that killed six people
  • The UN was hoping the Sweden talks would help launch formal peace talks between Yemen’s warring parties

DUBAI: The UN envoy to Yemen said he was “alarmed” over the escalation of violence after a rebel drone attack on the country’s largest air base killed six loyalist soldiers.

In tweets posted overnight Thursday Martin Griffiths urged all parties to Yemen’s protracted conflict to exercise restraint.

The Shiite Houthi rebels said they carried out the strike which hit a military parade at Al-Anad air base, in government-held Lahij province some 60 kilometers north of Yemen’s second city Aden.

Six loyalist soldiers were killed and at least 12 people wounded, including top commanders, medics said.

Yemen’s Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammad Al-Hadrami on Thursday meanwhile said that repeated violations by the Houthi militia were obstructing peace efforts in Yemen.

Al-Hadrami stressed during his meeting with Junaid Munir, the US Deputy Ambassador to Yemen, the need for the international community, the UN and the Yemen peace process sponsors to condemn the infractions and to have a firm position against the Houthis’ non-compliance.

The attack comes as the UN, which brokered several agreements between the rebels and the Saudi-backed government at talks in Sweden last month, is desperately seeking to relaunch negotiations for an end to four years of devastating conflict.

Griffiths tweeted that he was “alarmed by today’s (Thursday) escalation of violence in Yemen.”


He urged “all parties to the conflict to exercise restraint and refrain from further escalation” and to “create a conducive environment to maintain the positive momentum generated” in Sweden.

The UN was hoping last month’s talks in Sweden would help launch formal peace talks between Yemen’s warring parties.

Thursday’s attack is likely to create a new obstacle for those efforts.

The Houthis said in November they were halting drone and missile attacks on Saudi Arabia and the Yemeni government forces. However, the Saudi-led Arab coalition has reported several attempted missile attacks iin recent weeks, and accused the Houthis of committing numerous violations of the Hodeidah agreement.

In Sweden, the warring sides agreed truce deals for the key rebel-held aid port of Hodeidah and for battleground third city Taiz.

The Houthis last month claimed to have pulled out of Hodeidah port in compliance with the pact, but the UN had expressed doubts until other concerned parties have made verified the credibility of such move.

The drone strike drew condemnation from the UAE, a key contributor to the Saudi-led military coalition fighting the rebels.

The “murderous drone attack tells you everything you need about the Houthis. Peace negotiations are a tactic to them, not a commitment,” UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash tweeted.

“464 cease-fire violations, 36 killed & 318 wounded since (Sweden) agreement. The international community must increase pressure,” he said, blaming the Houthis for the slow progress of peace efforts.

The war between the Houthis and loyalist troops escalated in March 2015, when President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi fled into Saudi exile, prompting the Saudi-led coalition to intervene.

The conflict has killed nearly 10,000 people and pushed some 14 million Yemenis to the brink of famine in the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, according to the UN.

Field fires in Syria's Hasakeh kill 10: monitor

Updated 16 June 2019

Field fires in Syria's Hasakeh kill 10: monitor

  • Civilians and SDF forces are among the dead
  • Some people are claiming the fires were set on purpose

]QAMISHLI: Fires engulfing vital wheat fields across Syria’s northeast have killed at least 10 people, a war monitor said Sunday, as Kurdish authorities claim the blazes were set deliberately.
Kurdish authorities and the Damascus regime are competing to buy up this year’s harvest as fires — some claimed by the Daesh group — continue to scorch crops in the country’s breadbasket.
The victims included civilians and members of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces who died while trying to extinguish the blazes since Saturday, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The fires in the Kurdish-majority province of Hasakah also wounded another five people, according to a spokesman for the Kurdish Red Crescent.
“The victims were trying to douse the blaze but they were trapped by the fire,” Kamal Derbas said.
Kurdish officials have called on the US-led coalition to help extinguish blazes in the cereal and oil-rich region under their control.
“The largest fires have ravaged up to 350,000 hectares of land,” head of the Kurdish agriculture authority Salman Baroudo told AFP.
He claimed the fires were “deliberate,” saying they serve to “stir up strife between area residents and undermine the Kurdish administration” in the country’s northeast.
He did not specify who he believed was behind the blazes.
The official state news agency SANA on Saturday blamed the field fires in Hasakah on Kurdish-led forces.
It said they deliberately sparked a blaze to prevent local farmers from selling their crops to the government.
Analysts say wheat will be key to ensuring affordable bread prices and keeping the peace in various parts of the country in the coming period.
Farmers have separately blamed the fires on revenge attacks, sparks from low-quality fuel, and even carelessness.
SANA said Saturday that other field fires in the northwestern countryside of Hama province were sparked by jihadist artillery attacks.
Clashes in the area on Saturday between government forces and militants left dozens of combatants dead, including 26 pro-regime fighters, the Observatory said.
More than 370,000 people have been killed in Syria’s war since it erupted in 2011 with a violent crackdown on anti-government protests.