Yemen forces prepare assault on Houthis near key strait

Yemeni pro-government forces backed by a Saudi-led coalition approach the key Al-Anad military base in the southern Lahj governorate, some 50 kms north of the Red Sea port of Aden, in this August 3, 2015 file photo. (AFP)
Updated 04 December 2016

Yemen forces prepare assault on Houthis near key strait

ADEN: Yemeni government forces have sent reinforcements to the Red Sea coast to drive Iran-backed rebels away from a key global shipping route, military officials said on Saturday.
Dhubab, just 30 km from the strategic and busy Bab Al-Mandab strait, links the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean.
Two US warships and an Emirati vessel in the Red Sea came under Houthi missile attacks in September and October.
The government now aims to “push back the rebels away from the western coast and Bab Al-Mandab, and to secure maritime navigation in the southern part of the Red Sea,” a military official said.
Pro-government forces have been sent to the area, backed by tanks, other armored vehicles and Katyusha rocket launchers, military officials said.
They said the offensive aimed to wrest back control of the coast from Dhubab as far north as Al-Khukha 90 km farther north.
Troops were also sent by the Saudi-led Arab coalition.
Meanwhile, China’s Foreign Ministry has expressed concern after the Houthis and their allies formed a new government in a blow to UN-backed efforts to end 20 months of war in the country.
In a statement late on Friday, China’s Foreign Ministry said it supported Yemen’s legal government. “We do not approve of any side in Yemen taking any unilateral actions that complicate the situation, and believe this is not beneficial to a political resolution of the Yemen issue.”
China hopes relevant parties in Yemen continue dialogue to resolve the differences and reach an equitable settlement all sides can accept on the basis of UN resolutions and GCC initiatives, it added. 

 


Pompeo offers help in call to Lebanon PM

Updated 33 min 29 sec ago

Pompeo offers help in call to Lebanon PM

  • US defense secretary meanwhile played down President Donald Trump’s suggestion that the explosion was a bomb
  • Pompeo did not describe how the United States would help Lebanon

WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo offered assistance to Lebanon Wednesday after the massive explosion that leveled a huge section of Beirut and left at least 113 dead.
A day after the explosion in the Lebanese capital’s port, US Defense Secretary Mark Esper meanwhile played down President Donald Trump’s suggestion that it was a bomb, supporting instead Lebanese official accounts that it came from 2,750 tons of a volatile fertilizer ingredient, ammonium nitrate, stored in warehouse.
“I’m still getting information on what happened,” Esper told the Aspen Security Forum.
“Most believe that it was an accident as reported,” he said.
In a call with Lebanon’s Prime Minister Hassan Diab, Pompeo voiced “our steadfast commitment to assist the Lebanese people as they cope with the aftermath of this terrifying event,” a State Department statement said.
He “further stressed our solidarity with and support for the Lebanese people as they strive for the dignity, prosperity and security they deserve.”
The State Department only referred to a “horrible explosion,” despite Trump’s claim Tuesday that unnamed US generals indicated to him that “It was a bomb of some kind, yes.”
The Pentagon would not confirm Trump’s account.
Pompeo did not describe how the United States would help Lebanon, which was already in a deep economic crisis and seeking more than $20 billion in external funding.
The United States has been hesitant about supporting an aid package from the International Monetary Fund, insisting on reforms and the exclusion of Hezbollah, the pro-Iranian Lebanese militia and political party.