Yemen govt accuses Houthis of ‘sabotage’ for not showing up in peace talks

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Yemen’s foreign minister Khaled Al-Yamani walks to a meeting with UN special envoy on Yemen at a hotel on September 7, 2018 in Geneva. (AFP)
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UN envoy Martin Griffiths leaves after a news conference on Yemen talks at the United Nations office in Geneva, Switzerland on September 8, 2018. (REUTERS/Denis Balibouse(
Updated 08 September 2018

Yemen govt accuses Houthis of ‘sabotage’ for not showing up in peace talks

  • Yemeni FM chides UN envoy for not being firm enough with Houthis
  • The government delegation had decided to return home after the talks were put on hold for three days

GENEVA: Yemen's foreign minister accused the Houthi militia on Saturday of “trying to sabotage the negotiations” that ended without their attendance in Geneva and said that the UN envoy had not been firm enough with them.
“We want the UN to be firmer in bringing the other party to the negotiations”, Yemeni Foreign Minister Khaled al-Yamani told a press conference before leaving the Swiss city after three days of talks with UN envoy Stephen Griffiths on confidence-building measures including prisoner releases.
Al-Yamani, who led the government delegation, also accused the Houthis of being “totally irresponsible”.
“If they were sincere in reaching peace, they should have come, even if we were meeting in separate rooms,” he said.
Anwar Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs for the United Arab Emirates, a key member of the Saudi-led coalition of Sunni Arab states, tweeted: “Despite the serious setback in Geneva the way forward is still a political solution. What is perhaps clearer now to the international community is the unwillingness of the Houthis to engage in good faith with such a process.”
Despite the Houthis failure to show up, Griffiths said thatdid not signify the peace process was deadlocked
“They would have like to get here, we didn’t make conditions sufficiently correct to get them here,” Griffiths told a news conference, declining to elaborate.
He said he would meet in the coming days with the Houthi leadership in Sanaa and Muscat, Oman.
The Houthi group said on Friday it was still waiting for the United Nations to guarantee that the flight carrying its delegation to Geneva would not be inspected by Saudi coalition forces and could evacuate some of its wounded.
Griffiths, referring to peace processes, said on Saturday: “A restart is a very delicate, fragile moment. People are coming at a time when perhaps all of their constituencies are not fully engaged and don’t see ahead of time results that will come out of talks.
“So I don’t take this as a fundamental blockage in the process,” he added.
Confidence-building measures such as prisoner releases, increasing humanitarian access, especially to the city of Taiz, and reopening Sanaa airport were discussed with the government, he said.
Agreement has been reached for medical evacuations from the Houthi-held Yemeni capital of Sanaa, to start in a week with a flight to Cairo, he said, calling it an “early achievement.”
A Saudi-led military coalition intervened in Yemen’s war against the Houthis in 2015 with the aim of restoring the government of Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi. 


Leaked audio of Assad forces shooting elderly women in Idlib proves civilian killings: Report

Updated 35 min 21 sec ago

Leaked audio of Assad forces shooting elderly women in Idlib proves civilian killings: Report

  • Syrian regime also attacked Turkish military posts in violation of cease-fire deal

LONDON: Syrian regime forces deliberately killed elderly women in the northwestern region of Idlib, leaked recordings obtained by the UK’s Daily Telegraph have shown.

The audio recordings from Feb. 11 also suggest that forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad attacked Turkish military posts in violation of a cease-fire deal.

The recordings captured a conversation between soldiers from the infamous elite Tiger Forces, the 25th Division, tracking a vehicle driving into the village of Mizanaz, to the west of Aleppo.

In the audio, intercepted by spotters at an observatory in the local area who picked up the soldiers’ frequency, one soldier can be heard saying: “There are women driving, their car is stuck in the mud and they’re headed to a battlefield.”

 

 

A second soldier said: “She looks elderly. It’s clear she’s coming to pack her belongings, then she’s leaving.”

Despite a clear identification of the women, one of the soldiers is heard saying: “I’m watching them. They’re about to enter a house. Yallah, I’m firing now.”

At that point, rapid machine gun fire can be heard on the tape. “Fire, fire, I’m observing for you,” the second soldier replies.

Local media reports from the time and date of the audio recording support the assertion that the women were killed in the attack.

Regime forces have used attacks on civilians as part of their strategy to clear rebel-held areas of the country, while attacking civilian institutions such as schools and hospitals. 

In September 2019, pro-Assad militants reportedly executed an elderly woman who refused to leave her home when it was confiscated after they recaptured the town of Khan Sheikhoun. 

According to figures from the Syrian Network for Human Rights, regime forces and their Russian allies are responsible for 90 percent of civilian deaths in the nine-year conflict, with three-quarters of those people victims of artillery or aerial shelling. The deliberate killing of non-combatants is a war crime under international law.

The Telegraph’s report also revealed recordings showing regime forces actively attacking Turkish posts in Idlib province that were set up as part of a de-escalation deal negotiated with Russia in 2018.

The attacks prompted Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday to urge his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to “restrain” Assad’s advance in Idlib.