Yemen’s Houthi militia storing aircraft near neighborhoods in Sanaa: Arab coalition

Arab Coalition spokesman Col. Turki Al-Maliki speaks at a press conference in Riyadh. (File photo/SPA)
Updated 16 April 2019

Yemen’s Houthi militia storing aircraft near neighborhoods in Sanaa: Arab coalition

  • Coalition says it shot down 11 Houthi drones targeting government-held cities
  • Iran-backed Houthis accused of committing 3,364 violations of the Stockholm agreement

RIYADH:  The Arab coalition on Monday said it had shot down 11 drones launched by the Iranian-backed Houthis targeting Seiyun and that Saada and Amran governorates were still being used by the militia as storage areas for ballistic missiles.

Coalition spokesman Col. Turki Al-Maliki told a news conference in Riyadh that the coalition was committed to preventing the delivery of sophisticated weapons to the Houthis and it was taking all necessary measures to protect civilians and vital locations against the threat of drone attacks.

The coalition also welcomed the convening of Yemen’s Parliament, its first session since the 2014 Houthi coup. It was held in the city of Seiyun in the eastern province of Hadhramaut on Saturday and attended by 141 members, as well as international envoys and security personnel.

Sultan Al-Burkani, head of the General People’s Congress party, was elected speaker for the Yemeni House of Representatives, which convened for the first time since the war began.

“We welcome the convening of the Yemeni Parliament in Seiyun, which represents the isolation of the Houthi militia,” Al-Maliki said.

He said that 118 children, conscripted by Houthis, had been released through the coalition’s efforts and returned to their families so they could resume a normal life.

Houthi militias were obstructing the movement of merchant ships and threatening the navigation of ships in the Red Sea in Yemen, he added, as well as hiding drones near populated neighborhoods in Sanaa.

The war in Yemen between the Houthis and troops loyal to the internationally recognized government began in 2014 when militias seized the capital. In December 2018, the Houthi militia and Yemen’s government agreed to a deal in Sweden, known as the Stockholm agreement.

It comprised four key elements: A prisoner swap, the creation of a demilitarized zone around the country’s vital Red Sea trade corridor through withdrawals by rival Yemeni forces, the formation of a committee to discuss the future of the contested city of Taiz, and a commitment for the Houthis and the government to reconvene at the end of that month. The coalition spokesman said the Houthis had repeatedly breached the Stockholm agreement, committing 3,364 violations.

While the coalition had neutralized the threat of ballistic missiles, there remained the maritime threat.

“We are working to neutralize the speedboats that threaten Bab Al-Mandeb,” he said, referring to an important waterway for oil and products’ tankers to pass through on their way to and from Europe.

Al-Maliki stressed that all Yemeni ports were operating at full capacity because of the coalition’s efforts.

“We are facilitating the entry of vital goods through Yemeni ports quickly and without any exception,” he added.

He said clearance had been granted to 24 vessels carrying food and medical supplies.


Kosovan women returned from Syria face house arrest

Updated 24 April 2019

Kosovan women returned from Syria face house arrest

  • Four alleged militants, all men, were arrested the moment they were brought to the country
  • The state prosecution said all 32 repatriated women are under investigation

PRISTINA: Kosovo prosecutors have requested the house arrest of 16 women repatriated from Syria, saying they are suspected of joining or taking part as foreign fighters there.

The women appeared on Wednesday in court in Pristina, a day after 10 other women were put under house arrest. None have been charged with a crime.

Four alleged militants, all men, were arrested the moment they were brought to the country.

The women and children were sent to the Foreign Detention Centre in the outskirts of Pristina but were freed to go home after 72 hours.

Ten women were seen entering Pristina Basic Court in a police escort on Tuesday. The court said in a statement later that they had been placed under house arrest on charges of joining foreign armed groups and terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq from 2014 to 2019.

The state prosecution said all 32 repatriated women are under investigation and more of them are expected to appear in front of judges on Wednesday. The prosecution has yet to file charges.

After the collapse of Islamic State’s self-declared caliphate in Syria and Iraq, countries around the world are wrestling with how to handle militants and their families seeking to return to their home countries.

Kosovo's population is nominally 90 percent Muslim, but the country is largely secular in outlook. More than 300 of its citizens travelled to Syria since 2012 and 70 men who fought alongside militant groups were killed.

Police said 30 Kosovan fighters, 49 women and eight children remain in the conflict zones. The government said it plans to bring back those who are still there.

International and local security agencies have previously warned of the risk posed by returning fighters. In 2015, Kosovo adopted a law making fighting in foreign conflicts punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

On Saturday, 110 Kosovar citizens — the four alleged foreign fighters, 32 women and 74 children — were returned to Kosovo with assistance from the United States, the first such move for a European country.

Authorities say there are still 87 Kosovar citizens in Syria.