Yemen govt forces battle Houthis on two fronts

A Yemeni fighter loyal to President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi stands guard next to a pick up truck near Kahbub, on a mountainous area overlooking the strategic Bab al-Mandab Strait at the entrance to the Red Sea, on Sept. 15, 2016. Yemeni pro-government forces battled Shiite Houthi rebels on two fronts Saturday, including east of Taiz where they are struggling to break a siege of the southwestern city. (AFP / NABIL HASSAN)
Updated 17 September 2016
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Yemen govt forces battle Houthis on two fronts

ADEN, Yemen: Yemeni pro-government forces battled Shiite Houthi rebels on two fronts Saturday, including east of Taiz where they are struggling to break a siege of the southwestern city, military sources said.
“Five rebels and one of our soldiers were killed in the fighting” near Taiz, a local pro-government commander, Fadl Hassan, told AFP.
He said loyalist forces drove rebels and their allies from five hills in the Sharija region on the borders of Taiz and Lahj provinces.
“We are trying to break the siege (imposed by rebels) of Taiz,” Hassan said, adding that pro-government forces launched the operation from the eastern side of the city.
Forces loyal to the embattled government of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi have struggled since the end of August to break the siege of Taiz which the rebels have surrounded for more than a year.
Pro-government forces also clashed with rebels east of the Yemeni capital, with fighting concentrated in the strategic Sarwah region leading to Sanaa, military sources said.
The Houthis, who seized Sanaa two years ago, were putting up fierce resistance despite also coming under attack from Saudi-led coalition air strikes, the sources added.
Witnesses also reported air strikes targeting rebel positions in Nahm northeast of Sanaa, and in the coastal city of Hodeida to the west.
The coalition intervened in Yemen in March 2015 to help shore up Hadi’s government.
The conflict has since killed more than 6,600 people, most of them civilians, and displaced at least three million, the United Nations says.
Fighting intensified after the collapse in early August of UN-mediated peace talks held in Kuwait.


Syria flare-up kills 35 fighters, including 26 pro-regime forces

Updated 30 min 5 sec ago
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Syria flare-up kills 35 fighters, including 26 pro-regime forces

  • Russian-backed regime forces try to retake villages seized by opposition forces and allied fighters
  • The clashes also left 26 pro-regime forces dead in the north of Hama province

 

BEIRUT: At least 10 civilians and 35 combatants, mostly pro-regime forces, were killed on Saturday in clashes and airstrikes that erupted at dawn in northwestern Syria, a war monitor said.

The flare-up came as Russian-backed regime forces tried to retake two villages seized by opposition forces and allied fighters earlier this month, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

“Since this morning, the Syrian regime and allied fighters have launched five failed attempts to regain control of Jibine and Tal Maleh in northwestern Hama province,” said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman.

Syrian regime airstrikes killed nine opposition fighters, the war monitor said.

Ensuing clashes in the north of Hama province left 26 pro-regime forces dead, including eight who were killed in a mine explosion, the Observatory said.

In neighboring Idlib, regime airstrikes killed 10 civilians, including three children, the Observatory said.

The strikes hit the towns of Maaret Al-Numan and Al-Bara as well as the village of Al-Ftira, according to the war monitor.

The Idlib region of some 3 million people is supposed to be protected from a massive regime offensive by a buffer zone deal that Russia and Turkey signed in September.

But it was never fully implemented, as opposition refused to withdraw from a planned demilitarized zone.

In January, the Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham alliance led by Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate extended its administrative control over the region, which includes most of Idlib province as well as adjacent slivers of Latakia, Hama and Aleppo provinces.

The Syrian regime and Russia have upped their bombardment of the region since late April, killing nearly 400 civilians, according to the Observatory.

Turkey said on Friday that it did not accept Russia’s “excuse” that it had no ability to stop the Syrian regime’s continued bombardments in the last opposition bastion of Idlib.

“In Syria, who are the regime’s guarantors? Russia and Iran,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told state news agency Anadolu in a televised interview.

“Thus we do not accept the excuse that ‘We cannot make the regime listen to us’,” he said.

His comments came as Turkey disagreed with Russia earlier this week after Moscow claimed a new cease-fire had been secured in the province following weeks of regime bombardments — a claim that was denied by Ankara.

Syria’s war has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions since it started in 2011 with the repression of anti-regime protests.

Russia launched a military intervention in support of the regime in 2015, helping its forces reclaim large parts of the country from opposition fighters and militants.