Houthi killing spree jeopardizes truce

Updated 18 May 2015

Houthi killing spree jeopardizes truce

SANAA: Fierce clashes between Iran-backed Houthi rebels and pro-government forces killed dozens across south Yemen on Saturday, threatening to derail a humanitarian cease-fire drawn up to bring vital aid to the war-wracked country.
In the latest violence, at least 12 civilians were killed and 51 wounded when the Houthis shelled several neighborhoods in Yemen’s third city of Taez, military and local sources said.
The clashes came after overnight fighting killed 26 Houthi rebels and militiamen loyal to deposed President Ali Abdullah Saleh as well as 14 pro-government forces, military sources said.
Some aid has begun to trickle into Yemen since the pause in fighting, but residents of areas where clashes persist complain they remain without the most basic supplies. The fighting in Taez forced many to flee to the countryside.
“Humanitarian aid hasn’t reached Taez, where we haven’t received fuel, food or medical equipment,” said a government official in the city.
And in southern Daleh province, five Houthis were killed overnight when their convoy was ambushed, an official said.
Morocco’s armed forces, meanwhile, said they have located the body of one of their pilots downed over Yemen. A plane has been sent with DNA experts to identify the body of Yassine Bahti, whose F-16 was shot down Monday.
The Yemeni embassy in Riyadh held Saturday a press conference announcing a series of measures taken ahead of peace talks.
Abdul Aziz Jabari, the head of the committee preparing for the talks, said the dialogue would result in effective decisions that would be obligatory for all parties.

Russian mediation reopens major highway in NE Syria

Updated 7 min 8 sec ago

Russian mediation reopens major highway in NE Syria

  • Syria records 20 new cases of coronavirus in largest single-day increase

BEIRUT/DAMASCUS: Traffic returned to a major highway in northeastern Syria for the first time in seven months on Monday, following Russian mediation to reopen parts of the road captured last year by Turkey-backed opposition fighters.

Syrian Kurdish media and a Syrian Kurdish official said several vehicles accompanied by Russian troops began driving in the morning between the northern towns of Ein Issa and Tal Tamr. 

The two towns are controlled by regime forces and Syrian Kurdish fighters while the area between them is mostly held by Turkey-backed opposition fighters.

Turkish troops and allied Syrian fighters captured parts of the highway known as M4 in October, when Ankara invaded northeastern Syria to drive away Syrian Kurdish fighters. The M4 links Syria’s coastal region all the way east to the Iraqi border.

Four convoys will drive on the M4 every day with two leaving from Tal Tamr and two from Ein Issa, according to the Kurdish ANHA news agency. The report said a convoy will leave from each town at 8 a.m., and another set of convoys will do the same, three hours later.

The ANHA agency added that the opening of the highway will shorten the trip between the two towns as people previously had to take roundabout, side roads.

“This is the first time the road has been opened” since October, said Mervan Qamishlo, a spokesman for the Kurdish-led and US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces.

Russia, a main power broker with Turkey in Syria, mediated the deal to reopen the highway, he said. Russia and Turkey back rival groups in Syria’s nine-year conflict.

Coronavirus cases

Syria reported 20 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Monday, the largest single-day increase to date.

The war-torn country has recorded 106 infections and four deaths so far, and new cases have increased in recent days with the return of Syrians from abroad.

Syria has kept an overnight curfew in place but has begun to open some of its economy after a lockdown. Doctors and relief groups worry that medical infrastructure ravaged by years of conflict would make a more serious outbreak deadly and difficult to fend off.