MUKALLA: A joint military committee, led by Saudi officers in Yemen, will on Sunday finish counting medium and heavy weapons inside bases belonging to the government and Southern Transitional Council in Yemen’s port city of Aden, a committee member told Arab News.
The process is part of the security and military arrangements included in the Riyadh Agreement that eased tensions between the internationally recognized government and the pro-independence Southern Transitional Council.
“We have visited almost all military bases in Aden and we are ending the counting tomorrow (Sunday),” the pro-government officer said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters.
The next step is transferring the registered weapons to an agreed location before distributing them to military units battling the Iranian-backed Houthi militia.
Under the agreement’s security and military arrangements, both sides should withdraw forces from contested areas in Shabwa and Abyan and allow presidential forces to enter Aden.
Hundreds of troops were reportedly pulled out of their positions in the two provinces last week, a sign that both sides are committed to putting into place the terms of the agreement despite some delays.
The government officer said they did not confront any hurdles while counting military weapons, but did not find as many heavy weapons as expected. “There are some missing weapons inside the council’s brigades,” the officer said, adding that the team agreed to collect the weapons in a military outpost in Aden’s Beir Ahmad.
After collecting weapons and dispatching them to battlefields, the committee will apply the same process in Aden’s neighboring provinces such as Lahj and Abyan.
To prevent any further confrontations in Aden — Yemen’s temporary capital and the base — the government, military and security units will be armed with light weapons under the watch of Saudi forces in the city.
The Aden Al-Ghad news site reported on Friday that columns of armed vehicles carrying Saudi forces were seen winding through the southern province of Shabwa en route to Aden, joining troops deployed in the city.
Last week the commander of Saudi-led forces in Aden, Brig. Gen. Mujahid Al Otaibi, told reporters that the coalition was determined to push for the full implementation of the Riyadh Agreement.
On the frontlines, fighting intensified between government forces and Houthi militia in Hodeida, Sana’a and Marib despite the calm of the last few months.
Yemen’s Ministry of Defense said that the army’s demining engineers on Wednesday defused an Iranian-made naval landmine off the coast of an island in Hodeida province.
The army said the landmine confirmed government accusations that Iran had supplied Houthis with weapons including ballistic missiles, rockets and landmines along with military knowhow.
Houthi militias have increased the planting of naval mines in the last couple of years off the Red Sea province of Hodeida to obstruct an offensive as government forces push on the city’s edges.
In Hodeida, the pro-government Joint Forces have pushed back attempts by Houthis to advance in Attuhyita and other locations.
The Yemen conflict began in late 2014 when Houthi militias seized power and forced Yemen President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi to flee Sana’a and settle in Aden before asking for military help from the Kingdom.