Yemen coalition resumes offensive to liberate Hodeidah after Houthis reject peace talks

A Houthi rebel inspects a burnt armored vehicle on September 13, 2018, reportedly destroyed in an air strike during clashes with Coalition-backed forces of Yemen President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi near the eastern entrance of the Yemeni city of Hodeidah. (AFP)
Updated 17 September 2018

Yemen coalition resumes offensive to liberate Hodeidah after Houthis reject peace talks

  • Hodeidah is crucial to the conflict because the Houthis use the port to smuggle arms and other military supplies from Iran
  • Coalition forces last week seized the main road linking Hodeidah to the capital, Sanaa

JEDDAH: The Saudi-led coalition in Yemen has resumed its offensive to liberate the vital Red Sea port of Hodeidah after proposed peace talks collapsed because Iranian-backed Houthi militias did not appear.

At least 32 Houthis have been killed in renewed clashes, including four on Sunday in a coalition airstrike on a radio station tower.

Coalition-backed Yemeni forces last week seized the main road linking Hodeidah to the capital, Sanaa, as part of a strategy to isolate the two cities, both occupied by the Houthis

The UN’s Yemen envoy, Martin Griffiths, arrived in Sanaa on Sunday, but made no statement. 

He is pushing for new peace talks after the failed attempt this month to bring the two sides together in Geneva.

Hodeidah is crucial to the conflict because the Houthis use the port to smuggle arms and other military supplies from Iran, including the components of missiles used to attack Saudi Arabia from launch sites in northern Yemen. The coalition has imposed a partial blockade on the port, which the Houthis seized in 2014.

Yemeni government forces launched a major operation in June to retake both the city and its port. The troops, backed by coalition airstrikes, have retaken a number of towns across Hodeida province but have not yet breached the city.

The coalition announced a temporary cease-fire in Hodeida in July to give a chance to UN-brokered peace talks.  


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

Updated 6 min 33 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 northwest Syria, 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.