No peace deal in Yemen as long as Houthi militias exist: Al-Assiri

Maj. Gen. Ahmed Al-Assiri
Updated 30 September 2016
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No peace deal in Yemen as long as Houthi militias exist: Al-Assiri

BERLIN: Coalition spokesperson Maj. Gen. Ahmed Al-Assiri said that the alliance will not accept any peace agreement in Yemen before disbanding the armed wing of the Houthi militias.
His remarks came after an offer by the Iran-backed group for a cease-fire made three days ago was rebuffed.
Al-Assiri’s said at a press conference organized by the Saudi Embassy in Berlin that despite the need for a political solution to the conflict, the Kingdom will not support an agreement that allows the Houthis to keep its militias.
He added: “Things are good now; day after day, the Yemeni Army is getting closer and closer to the capital. We do not expect significant operations in Sanaa because there are not a lot of forces in the capital; we go slowly but constantly.”
Al-Assiri pointed out that Saudi Arabia has rebuilt the Yemeni Army from scratch, and it is still committed to supporting it, but the Kingdom does not want to disturb the people of Yemen by deploying large numbers of Saudi forces in the country.
He added: “We carry out very limited military action in supporting the Yemeni Army. We do air support by targeting Houthi ammunition stores, and we are targeting their movements from time to time, but it is the Yemeni Army’s job.” 
He revealed that Australia and the US, France and Saudi Arabia intercepted five arms shipments from Iran, off the coast of Yemen, without giving details.
Al-Assiri confirmed that Saudi Arabia is trying to avoid civilian casualties by using precision-guided weapons, but he accused the Houthis of using civilian sites for military operations.  He added: “This is a war, mistakes might occur, we are doing what is necessary to avoid any mistakes and if any mistake occurs, we have a committee from the coalition and the government of Yemen which will investigate.”


Christchurch Muslims praise King Salman’s Hajj offer

Updated 11 min 9 sec ago
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Christchurch Muslims praise King Salman’s Hajj offer

  • The president of the Muslim Association of Canterbury Shagaf Khan said people will be both financially and spiritually supported during the journey
  • Khan said a trip to Makkah would normally cost around 10,000 New Zealand dollars ($6,769), but King Salman’s offer would cover pilgrims “from the time they leave their house and come back”

CHRISTCHURCH: King Salman’s Hajj offer to host families of those affected by March’s Christchurch terror attacks is “something really special,” said the president of the Muslim Association of Canterbury, Shagaf Khan.
The Saudi king has offered to host and cover the expenses of 200 Hajj pilgrims when they journey to Makkah this year.
Khan said people will be both financially and spiritually supported during the journey. “For some of them, it’ll be a great comfort feeling like they’ve fulfilled the obligations of being a Muslim,” he added.
Khan said a trip to Makkah would normally cost around 10,000 New Zealand dollars ($6,769), but King Salman’s offer would cover pilgrims “from the time they leave their house and come back.”
When asked what the offer would mean for Canterbury’s Muslim community, Khan said it is part of the solidarity and support that has been shown to them since the Christchurch terror attacks, which claimed the lives of 51 people.
“Four months on … people still feel supported and they feel they’re still being remembered,” he added.
Sheikh Mohammed Amir, who is working closely with the local community, Saudi Arabia’s Embassy and its Ministry of Islamic Affairs to implement King Salman’s offer, said it will be available for those who had lost family members or been injured in the mosque attacks.
Canterbury’s Muslims are “very appreciative” of the offer, added Amir, who is chairman of the Islamic Scholars Board of New Zealand.
“I’ll say with full confidence that this will be a big relief for the deceased’s families, for the victims, for all those who’ve been injured and affected,” he said.
When asked how the organization of the pilgrimage is going, Amir said “so far, so good,” but added that it has been challenging without official records to track everyone down.
He said it is an honor and a responsibility to help organize the pilgrimage, which he has been helping to plan since the end of Ramadan. “People are very excited about it,” he added.
He said he believed that the king’s offer had been made to help people’s rehabilitation after the terror attacks.
“The community believes he’s going to contribute in building Christchurch and bringing people to a normal life,” Amir added.