Saudi help in mine clearance allows Yemenis to return home

A Yemeni demining unit prepares to destroy unexploded bombs and mines collected from conflict areas near the southern port city of Aden. (Reuters)
Short Url
Updated 17 January 2020

Saudi help in mine clearance allows Yemenis to return home

  • Mine clearance teams have defused thousands of landmines laid by the Iranian-backed Houthi militia

AL-MUKALLA: A large number of Yemeni civilians have returned to their houses in several Red Sea areas in the province of Taiz after the Saudi project for landmine clearance, known as Masam, declared them free from Houthi-laid landmines.

The Saudi-funded project said in a statement on Thursday that its mine clearance teams have defused thousands of landmines laid by the Iranian-backed Houthi militia from 10 areas in Mocha, Mouza and Wazyia districts and is working on securing the remaining heavily mined parts of the districts, calling upon displaced residents to return to their houses. 

Col. Othman Al-Jahwari, an expert with the project, said that they had retrieved more than 10,000 landmines, improvised explosive devices and unexploded ordnance from different areas in the three districts and cleared almost 70 percent of 17, 000-square- meter area in Taiz. Al-Jahwari said residents have begun going back to their homes and farmlands after hearing the project’s announcement.

In the same province, six children were injured on Wednesday when a landmine planted by Houthis exploded as they were playing in Al Sofi region in Wazyia district.

Houthis have planted landmines extensively since early 2015 when Yemeni government forces, backed by massive air and logistic military support from the Saudi-led coalition, seized the momentum and regained control of areas in Taiz, Sana’a, Jawf and Hodeida.

When government forces marched along the country’s western coast towards the city of Hodeida in 2018, Houthis planted thousands of landmines on farms, roads and in houses to stop the advance. Local military commanders say Houthi landmines slowed the military offensive but did not stop it, and loyalists are currently seizing control of parts of Hodeida.

In April 2019, Human Right Watch said Houthi-laid landmines had killed hundreds of civilians, obstructed their movement and prevented lifeline humanitarian aid from reaching people. Recent reports by local organizations that document civilian deaths showed that more than 500 civilians have been killed by Houthi landmines in the province of Taiz.

‘Exceptional mission’

Col. Abdul Basit Al-Baher, Yemen army spokesperson in Taiz, told Arab News that the Saudi project is carrying out an “exceptional mission” that cleared a large swathe of Yemeni areas from landmines. The number of civilian deaths would have been higher if the project had not stepped in, according to the army spokeperson.

“This is an exceptional humanitarian mission that has saved many lives in Yemen. 

Their mission is as important or even more important than humanitarian aid,” he said. “Before the arrival of the project, people used to deactivate landmines by improvised means, which causes deaths.” 

Al-Baher believed that Yemen would remain suffering from Houthi mines for the next three decades. “This is like a plague that sweeps over Yemeni lands. Almost every day we are alerted about explosions caused by Houthi landmines in Taiz. They have killed humans and animals,” he said.


Hezbollah responds to Netanyahu with a media tour of steel factory

Updated 01 October 2020

Hezbollah responds to Netanyahu with a media tour of steel factory

  • The local and international media accompanied the official of media relations in Hezbollah

BEIRUT: A few hours after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Hezbollah, during his speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, of having "secret headquarters in the southern suburbs of Beirut," the party organized a media tour of the Jnah area that Netanyahu referred to, to deny the information he provided.

Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah responded to Netanyahu in a live speech on Tuesday night, and called on the air the media to tour the facility that Netanyahu talked about and said: "We do not place our missiles, neither in the Beirut port, nor near a gas station, nor between homes, and we know." Well, where should we place our missiles? "

The local and international media accompanied the official of media relations in Hezbollah, Muhammad Afif, to the facility that Netanyahu talked about in Jnah area and it turned out to be a steel-cutting factory and said: "We are not scouts for the enemy and we do not provide him with information, but this tour aims to reveal that these facilities have no connection with storage Weapons of resistance. "

The media tour accompanied by supporters of the party chanting for Nasrallah, during which Muhammad Afif said: "The enemy's claims are false, and this industrial facility has existed for decades."

The owner of the industrial facility in the Janah, who came in hastily at night to open the plant to the media, said: "This is a steel-cutting factory. We have workers and we work normally. Our doors are always open to everyone, and there are no missiles in it as you can see."

This plant is located in the industrial area of ​​Jnah, on the administrative borders of Beirut. Netanyahu had said of it that has "missile depots a meter away from gas depots near Beirut airport."

In information released by its spokesman, Avichai Adrai, the Israeli army identified two additional sites, which he claimed "Hezbollah used to manufacture parts for precision-guided missiles."

“One of the two sites is an underground facility built under four seven-story residential buildings in which 70 families live in the Al-Laylaki neighborhood east of Beirut International Airport, and next to it is a church and a medical center, and the second facility is under a complex of five residential buildings in which about 50 families live in Choueifat, located about 90 meters from a mosque.