Yemeni government and Houthi militants ‘accept’ Hodeidah troop redeployment plan

Coalition forces guarding the Red Sea Mills grain store in Hodeidah. (AFP/File)
Updated 16 April 2019
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Yemeni government and Houthi militants ‘accept’ Hodeidah troop redeployment plan

  • UN Yemen envoy Martin Griffiths tells Security Council that breakthrough of new detailed redeployment plan "extremely welcome"
  • Arab coalition supporting government troops says Houthis have committed dozens of violations of Stockholm agreement

LONDON: Both sides in the Yemen conflict have agreed to a new plan to redeploy their troops in the port of Hodeidah, the UN envoy to the country said on Monday.

The breakthrough comes months after a ceasefire deal for the port city was struck in Sweden between the Iran-backed Houthi militia and Yemeni government forces.

However, implemenetation of the deal in Hodeidah, which became the main focus of the conflict, has stalled with the Arab coalition supporting government troops accusing the Houthis of dozens of violations of the deal.

Martin Griffiths told a Security Council meeting that the breakthrough of the two sides agreeing to a new “detailed redeployment plan” for Hodeidah was “extremely welcome.”

He said the redeployment “would be the first voluntary withdrawal of forces in this long conflict.”

“We all need to see tangible progress in Hodeida before moving to focus on the political solution,” Griffiths added.

The detailed plan on the pullback was negotiated by Danish General Michael Lollesgaard who heads a UN monitoring mission.

Following the deal on the first stage, Lollesgaard will now focus on the second phase and seek to resolve disputes over the deployment of local forces in areas from where there has been a pullback.

UN diplomats have said the Houthis refused to pull away from Hodeida ports as part of the first stage.

*With AFP


Kosovan women returned from Syria face house arrest

Updated 24 April 2019
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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.