Houthi militias ‘recruit children and force them to fight on Yemen front lines’

Update Houthi militias ‘recruit children and force them to fight on Yemen front lines’
Coalition spokesman Col. Turki Al-Maliki. (SPA)
Updated 26 June 2018

Houthi militias ‘recruit children and force them to fight on Yemen front lines’

Houthi militias ‘recruit children and force them to fight on Yemen front lines’
  • Col. Turki Al-Maliki, the coalition spokesman, said the Iran-backed group are also using civilians as human shields in Hodeidah, where a battle is raging for control of the country’s largest port.
  • The coalition spokesman said eight members of Hezbollah, the Lebanese militia, were seized in an ambush in Saada —  the province in the north which is a Houthi stronghold.

RIYADH: Yemen’s Houthi militias are recruiting children by force and making them fight on the front lines, the Saudi-led coalition said on Monday.

Col. Turki Al-Maliki, the coalition spokesman, said the Iran-backed group are also using civilians as human shields in Hodeidah, where a battle is raging for control of the country’s largest port. He said Houthi militias have prevented ships from carrying oil into the Hodeidah seaport for more than two months,. The claims came a day after Saudi air defenses intercepted two ballistic missiles launched by the Houthis over the capital.

The attack brings the total number of ballistic missiles launched by the militia against Saudi Arabia to 155, Al-Maliki said at a press conference in Riyadh.

In Yemen, he said coalition forces were removing hundreds of thousands of land mines planted by the Houthis. 

Army engineering support teams were continuing demining operations in Hajjah, northwestern Yemen and more than 600,000 planted by the Houthis in Hodeidah have been removed so far, Al-Maliki said. 

Yemeni pro-government forces backed by the Arab coalition are fighting to seize the city from the Houthis. The capture of the city and its port - one of the main supply lines to the country, could prove to be pivotal in the outcome of the war. 

The coalition have called on the Houthis to withdraw from the city.  

“Military operations in Yemen are proceeding according to international law and the coalition supports all the efforts of UN Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths,” Al-Maliki said.

Humanitarian aid from the Kingdom continues to be distributed and “close to five million beneficiaries have benefited from the aid that has been distributed by the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center,” he said.

The coalition has issued more than 25,000 air, land and sea permits and opened the ports to allow humanitarian aid to pass through and help alleviate the distress of the brotherly nation.

Ballistic missiles are being fired from Yemen targeting Saudi Arabia from Saada and northern Omran, Al-Maliki said. 

UN envoy Martin Griffiths is due in Aden on Wednesday for talks with President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who was forced to flee the capital Sanaa when the Houthis seized the city in 2014. 

On Sunday, two ballistic missiles were fired from Saada toward Riyadh and were intercepted. Another was fired at Khamis Mushait, the coalition spokesman said.

This was a desperate attempt by the Houthi militias, Al-Maliki said, to atone for their failures.

The Houthis continue to terrorize Yemen and hurt civilians, whether women and children, using mines. “The Houthis have planted mines, and we have removed more than 600,000,” Al-Maliki said.

A program has been launched by Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, supervisor general of the King Salman Humanitarian and Relief Center, allocating $40 million to remove mines planted in Yemen by the Iran-backed Houthis. 

A video was shown of the coalition’s efforts to target the Houthi militias in Saada, with vehicles transporting weapons.

“We are not changing our plans; we are improving them. We have talked about the military operation, that it's legitimate and legal. The warnings coming from the community are understandable. However, we have taken all measures to improve the situation in Yemen,” Al-Maliki said.

“Yemen’s Houthi militias recruit children by force and force them to fight on the front lines.”

Al-Maliki said the coalition had targeted men from Hezbollah as well as Houthis. The coalition uses its intelligence to monitor terrorist organizations that enter Yemen, whether Hezbollah or others, he added.

“The efforts continue, and this is our duty toward our brothers and sister in Yemen.”

Al-Maliki also gave an update on progress made by pro-government forces in other parts of the country.

The coalition spokesman said eight members of Hezbollah, the Lebanese militia, were seized in an ambush in Saada —  the province in the north which is a Houthi stronghold.

They were captured on Monday along with a senior Houthi leader in the Al-Malahit district.

Moreover, he said 41 terrorist elements have been targeted and their vehicles and equipments have been destroyed.

Al-Maliki said Yemeni forces had succeeded in controlling several villages in Al-Bayda province and that the Yemeni army had regained control of several positions in Harf Sufyan, west of Taiz.

“The Yemeni army, with the support of the Saudi-led coalition, continues its advances in Saada,” he said, adding that the milita has suffered heavy losses in Maran district.

Al-Maliki said the Saudi-led coalition supports all the efforts of UN envoy Griffiths.

The Saudi coalition sent 12 trucks carrying aid to Hodeidah and the coalition will continue to allow relief vessels to enter the port, despite Houthi efforts to block aid access to civilians.