‘Yemen’s Houthi militia using Iranian-made drone aircraft’: Arab coalition

Arab coalition spokesperson Col. Turki Al-Maliki holds a press conference at the King Salman airbase in Riyadh. (SPA)
Updated 21 January 2019

‘Yemen’s Houthi militia using Iranian-made drone aircraft’: Arab coalition

  • Col. Turki Al-Maliki said the Houthis have used the aircraft to carry out a number of attacks
  • Al-Maliki said a coalition military operation that was conducted in Sanaa on Saturday night

JEDDAH: The Arab coalition on Sunday said the Houthi militia are in possession of Iranian-made drones “Shahed 129” and are using residential areas to hide the aircraft.
On Saturday night, the Arab coalition destroyed seven Houthi drone facilities in Sanaa in an airstrike.
Addressing a press conference in Riyadh on Sunday, coalition spokesman Col. Turki Al-Maliki said the attack followed an extensive intelligence-gathering operation that monitored movements of the Houthi militia and helped identify the Iranian-backed group’s operational and logistical infrastructure.
Targets included drone storage areas, manufacturing and repair workshops, and launch platforms, as well as training facilities for terrorist operations, he said.
He added: “We attacked a helicopter platform belonging to the Houthi militia in an area between Sanaa and Saada.”
Al-Maliki confirmed that Iran had provided the Houthi militia with “Ababil-T drones.”
Al-Maliki said the military strike was carried out in accordance with international humanitarian law. The coalition’s Joint Forces Command took all necessary precautions to protect civilians and avoid collateral damage, he added.
Al-Maliki reaffirmed the commitment of the coalition’s Joint Forces Command to international humanitarian law in all military operations, and said the coalition would continue to deny Houthi militia and terrorist groups access to capabilities that threaten regional and international security.
He said the Houthis have used drones to carry out a number of attacks and are using Sanaa airport for military purposes.
 He also showed videos and pictures of Saturday’s operations against the militia group in Sanaa, models of aircraft used by the Houthis in their attacks and the bombing of a cave used by the Iran-backed terrorist group as a command center in Sanaa.

20 Houthis killed
More than 20 Houthis were killed in military operations carried out by the Yemeni army backed by the coalition’s air support in Taiz.
A Yemeni military source said the Arab coalition conducted airstrikes killing five Houthis, injuring others. A vehicle laden with ammunition was also destroyed in the joint operation.
“Nine more militants were killed by the Yemeni army’s artillery shelling, which targeted a meeting held by the militia at a farm, the source added. He confirmed that Houthi commanders were among those killed.
“The Yemeni army also targeted reinforcements of the militia near Al-Rawd School killing and injuring a number of insurgents.”
“Multiple infiltration attempts were thwarted by the Yemeni armed forces west of the city, while two Houthis were killed in a failed infiltration attempt targeting Al-Tashrifat military camp in eastern Taiz,” the source said.
The airstrikes late Saturday were the first by the coalition in Sanaa since a deal reached last month between coalition-backed government and the Houthis, which have been at war since 2014.
The deal provided for a cease-fire and a withdrawal of rival forces from the contested port city of Hodeidah on the Red Sea as well as an exchange of prisoners, but the implementation has run into difficulties.
Earlier this month, a bomb-laden drone launched by the Houthis targeted a military parade near the government-held city of Aden on the Arabian Sea, killing at least seven people, including the commander of military intelligence.


Streets before suits: US envoy vists Beirut’s ‘real’ rescue hub

Updated 37 min 48 sec ago

Streets before suits: US envoy vists Beirut’s ‘real’ rescue hub

  • Hale’s visit to the volunteer hub in the Gemmayzeh district came days after Macron took a tour of the same street last week
  • Students and young professionals have ditched classes and day jobs to save lives and provide emergency support

BEIRUT: Arriving in Lebanon after last week’s deadly Beirut blast, US envoy David Hale bypassed politicians to head straight to a hard-hit neighborhood where young volunteers are helping people abandoned by their state.
At the volunteer hub dubbed the “Base Camp,” there is a “focus on getting things done,” Hale told a press conference after his tour.
He contrasted the hive of activity to the “dysfunctional governance and empty promises” of Lebanon’s political leaders, who face public outrage over the explosion of a vast stock of ammonium nitrate stored for years at Beirut’s port.
Volunteer efforts “could not only be tapped to rebuild Beirut but (also) to undertake necessary reforms that will bring the kind of transformation that is necessary for Lebanon,” Hale said.
In the wake of the August 4 explosion of a the huge chemical store that laid waste to whole Beirut neighborhoods, students and young professionals have ditched classes and day jobs to save lives, provide emergency support and start to rebuild.
Hale’s visit to the volunteer hub in the blast-hit Gemmayzeh district came days after French President Emmanuel Macron took a tour of the same street last Thursday, as well as meeting Lebanese leaders.
But while Macron was welcomed as a savior, it was clear that the heroes of the moment were the volunteers.
“I don’t know why (Hale) would do that second step and go to meet politicians,” said Wassim Bou Malham, 33, who leads a database management team at the Base Camp.
“The aid is happening here, the data collection is happening here, the cleaning is happening here, the reconstruction is happening here,” he told AFP.
Wearing face masks and neon vests, volunteers sounded like international experts as they explained how they were cleaning up their government’s mess.
In fluent English, they described 3D mapping operations, data collection and relief efforts organized since the cataclysmic blast.
Bou Malham, who spoke with Hale during the tour, is not a data expert but picked up useful experience managing client databases for two of Beirut’s biggest nightclubs.
After the blast tore through the city, wounding 6,500 people and displacing 300,000 from their homes, his skills became vital for the aid effort.
The digitised database developed by Bou Malham and his team of volunteers is now critical for sorting and delivering aid to thousands of blast survivors.
“We haven’t seen any government official or representative actually come in here and ask us if we need anything,” he said.
“It’s so funny that David Hale is the first.”
It is not only in the Base Camp that the state has been thin on the ground.
In the first hours after the explosion, civil defense teams were vastly outnumbered by young volunteers flooding the streets to help.
By the next day, the latter had set up a camp where they offered food, medicine, temporary shelter and repair services to thousands of blast victims, in partnership with several non-governmental groups.
Operations have continued to expand since.
A Base Camp relief hotline received more than 200 calls in the first two hours. Volunteers have assessed the damage to around 1,200 homes and installed at least 600 wooden doors.
“The work is going to speak for itself,” said Bushra, a 37-year-old volunteer.
Simmering anger against Lebanon’s leaders has flared since the blast, which appears to have been caused by years of state corruption and negligence.
With 171 people dead, it is widely seen as the most tragic manifestation yet of the rot at the core of the country’s political system.
Western donors too are fed up with Lebanon’s barons, who have for years resisted reforms demanded by the international community.
In a joint statement released after an international donor conference organized by France in the wake of the disaster, world leaders called for aid to be delivered directly to the Lebanese people.
USAID acting administrator, John Barsa, said at the time that American help “is absolutely not going to the government.”
USAID “will increase its financial support to civil society groups in Lebanon by 30 percent to $6.627 million,” Barsa said in a press briefing on Thursday.
At the volunteer camp in Gemmayzeh, it was clear that funding would be put to good use.
Ziad Al-Zein, arrives before volunteers start their shifts at 9:00 am to ensure the camp is clean and secure.
The 33-year-old was among the first groups of volunteers clearing debris in Gemmayzeh.
“We are not speacialists in crisis management or catastophe management. We are learning things as we go,” he said.
“There is no state,” he added. “We will not abandon our fellow Lebanese in these conditions.”