Saudi-led coalition starts operation to target military positions in Sanaa

The targeting process is an extension of past military operations carried out by the Arab Coalition. (Shutterstock)
Updated 20 July 2019

Saudi-led coalition starts operation to target military positions in Sanaa

  • The leadership of the coalition forces has taken all preventive procedures and measures to protect civilians and prevent them from collateral damage
  • The targeting process was consistent with international humanitarian law and its customary laws

DUBAI: Arab Coalition spokesperson Col. Al-Maliki said that coalition forces on early Saturday morning carried out an operation to destroy five air defense sites and ballistic missile depots in Sana’a, Saudi state news agency SPA has reported.

The targeting process is an extension of past military operations carried out by the Arab Coalition to identify and to destroy air defense capabilities and other hostile capabilities.

Al-Maliki said the Arab Coalition forces was committed to the preventing of the Houthi militia, as well as other terrorist organizations, from obtaining such capabilities as they are a direct threat to United Nations aircraft, air navigation and civilians.

Al-Maliki added that the targeting process was consistent with international humanitarian law and its customary laws, and that the leadership of the coalition forces has taken all preventive procedures and measures to protect civilians and prevent them from collateral damage.

Meanwhile, SPA has also reported that the Yemeni army has defeated the Iranian-backed Houthi militia in the central province of Al-Bayda.

A Yemeni military source said 10 Houthi militants were killed and wounded in the Makhabi Al-Qardai in the Qaniya area.

In the southern Yemeni province of Dali, the Yemeni army attacked militants in Bab Gulq front, north of the Qtaoba district.

The Yemeni army also launched a bombardment targeting the militia in Al-Fakher and Zubairiya, which resulted into casualties and injuries to the Houthi and the destruction of mechanized units belonging to them.

The Yemeni army also took control of new sites and areas in the Kataf district of Saada, hours after field progress in Baqam district in the same governorate.

A Yemeni military source said Yemeni army forces, backed by coalition forces, had taken up new areas in Kataf, where the Iranian-backed Houthi had been fortified, the SPA reported.

Brigadier General Raddad Al-Hashemi, commander of Kataf Brigade, said the army took control of a series of mountain heights and Al-Fahlaween valley, which overlooks the center of the Kataf district in Saada, after violent battles against the militia.


Scramble for Syria after US withdrawal

Updated 58 min 33 sec ago

Scramble for Syria after US withdrawal

  • Turkey considers the SDF and YPG to be terrorists allied with the PKK, who have been involved in a bloody campaign for autonomy against Turkish states for decades

ANKARA: As Ankara pressed on with its offensive in northeastern Syria amid international criticism, Washington announced some 1,000 soldiers were withdrawn from the zone.

With the US departure, the attention turns to how the regional actors, especially Turkey and Syria, will operate in their zones of influence in the war-torn country where the possible escape of Daesh fighters from prisons could result in more chaos.

Some experts claim that with the US decision to withdraw its forces, the territorial claim of northeastern Syria by the Kurdish YPG militia and its political wing, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), has finished.

Turkey considers the SDF and YPG to be terrorists allied with the PKK, who have been involved in a bloody campaign for autonomy against Turkish states for decades. The PKK is listed as a terror group by Turkey, the EU and the US.

But, whether some 50,000 YPG fighters will be integrated into the Syrian Army or will try to maintain their autonomy is still a matter of concern.

Mazloum Abdi, commander-in-chief of the SDF, recently wrote for Foreign Policy that the Kurds are finally ready to partner with Assad and Putin.

Yury Barmin, an analyst at the Russian International Affairs Council, said: “Damascus and the SDF struck a deal at the Russian base in Hmeymim to let the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) enter the Kurdish-controlled area in the northeast and deploy at the Syrian-Turkish border. The SAA is set to take control over Manbij, Kobane and Qamishli.”

However, Barmin told Arab News that a deal between Damascus and the SDF would greatly contribute to a buffer zone that Turkish President Recep Yayyip Erdogan intends to create in northern Syria, allowing Kurds to take some areas along the border without directly antagonizing Ankara. This policy, Barmin added, would be unacceptable to Moscow.

“There are now lots of moving targets and the goal of the Syrian Army — whether it will take some strategic cities or control the whole border along Turkey — is unclear for now. As Russian President Vladimir Putin is on his official visit to Saudi Arabia, his decision for Syria will be clearer when he returns home,” he said.

HIGHLIGHT

Some experts claim that with the US decision to withdraw its forces, the territorial claim of northeastern Syria by the Kurdish YPG militia and its political wing, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), has finished.

Barmin also noted that Russia let Erdogan operate the Adana agreement to a certain extent, under which Turkey has the right to conduct cross-border operations.

“But now, Russia would like to show Turkey its own red lines in the region,” he said.

However, Navvar Saban, a military analyst at the Omran Center for Strategic Studies in Istanbul, said that the Syrian regime is not capable of striking a deal without being backed by Russians, and that Moscow would not want to lose its relationship with Ankara.

“Russians always talk about the Adana agreement. We are now talking about a renewal and reactivation of the agreement with new specifications to allow Turkey to go deeper into Syrian territories. In this way, the Russians will have a bigger chance to allow the Syrian regime and Turkey to communicate. It is something that will open the diplomatic channels,” Saban said.

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump tweeted: “Big sanctions on Turkey coming! Do people really think we should go to war with NATO Member Turkey? Never ending wars will end!”

Joe Macaron, a resident fellow at the Arab Center in Washington, said that if the US is completely out of the way, Russia and Turkey will have to either agree or contest each other to take over the US territorial control in northeast Syria. He added that this might be the most crucial race in the coming weeks.

Concerning the diplomatic channels between Damascus and Ankara, Macaron thinks that the channels were and will remain open between Moscow and Ankara since they have common interests beyond Syria.

“If Turkey had no other option, it might have to settle for controlling a few border towns, but this means Erdogan can no longer effectively implement his plan to return Syrian refugees, most notably without funding from the international community. Ankara is more likely to succeed in striking such a deal with Moscow than with Washington,” Macaron told Arab News.

Many experts agree that the Syrian chessboard will be determined predominantly by Russian moves.

“Assad has no say in what will happen next, Russia is the decision maker and there is little the Syrian regime can do unless Iran forcefully intervenes to impact the Russian-Turkish dynamics in the northeast,” Macaron said.