Saudi-led military committee ends heavy weapons counting in Aden

A soldier loyal to the international government, manning a machine gun mounted on a vehicle in the southeastern port city of Al-Mukalla, the capital of Hadramawt province. (AFP)
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Updated 19 January 2020

Saudi-led military committee ends heavy weapons counting in Aden

  • The process is part of the security and military arrangements included in the Riyadh Agreement

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.

HIGHLIGHT

Hundreds of troops were pulled out of their positions in the two provinces last week, a sign that both sides are committed to putting into place into the terms of the agreement despite some delays.

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.


Turkey, Russia discuss joint patrols option in Syria’s Idlib

Updated 34 min 51 sec ago

Turkey, Russia discuss joint patrols option in Syria’s Idlib

  • Ankara and Moscow have accused each other of flouting a 2018 de-escalation agreement
  • But there had been some rapprochement between Turkey and Russia in their talks on Idlib

ANKARA: Turkey and Russia are discussing possible joint patrols as one way to reach a deal to halt fighting and stem an exodus of civilians in Syria’s Idlib region, a Turkish official said on Thursday, a day after Ankara threatened military action to push back Syrian government forces.
Turkey and Russia, which back opposing sides in the nine-year-old conflict, have failed to reach an agreement after two rounds of talks in the last two weeks.
A Syrian government offensive to eradicate the last rebel strongholds in northwest Syria has led to some of the most serious confrontations yet between NATO member Ankara and Damascus, and prompted Turkey to send thousands of troops and convoys of heavy weapons to the border area.
Turkey has taken in about 3.7 million Syrian refugees since the war started and says it cannot handle any more over its border, which is now closed. The United Nations says more than 900,000 people, mostly women and children, have fled their homes in Idlib since early December.
The Turkish official said the talks with Russia had not been “completely without a result.” The discussions had moved forward but reached no final decision, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

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“Russia has maintained its position that Turkey withdraws from Idlib and evacuates its observation posts since the beginning. Withdrawing from Idlib or evacuating the observation posts is not on the agenda.”
“Various exercises are being discussed. For example, ensuring security through Turkish and Russian security officials and holding joint patrols could be possible,” the official said, adding that both Ankara and Moscow expected their presidents to “end the issue.”
Turkey, which backs rebels trying to oust Syrian President Bashar Assad, has threatened to use military power to drive back Syrian forces advancing in Idlib unless they withdraw by the end of the month. On Wednesday, President Tayyip Erdogan said a Turkish offensive into Idlib was a “matter of time.”
Ankara and Moscow have accused each other of flouting a 2018 de-escalation agreement that allowed Turkey and Russia to set up military observation posts in Idlib.
Turkey has said some of its posts in Idlib were surrounded by Syrian government forces, but that it would not evacuate the positions or move them. On Tuesday, presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said Turkey had rejected alternative maps offered by Russia during talks.
Earlier on Thursday, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said there had been some rapprochement with Russia in their talks on Idlib but that they were still not at the desired levels.
“There is no such thing as the Russians imposing a map on us, we exchanged documents presenting our respective positions,” Cavusoglu told state broadcaster TRT Haber.
Russia, which backs Assad, has said a Turkish offensive into Idlib would be the “worst-case scenario” and that Russia would work to prevent the situation there from worsening. Iran, which also backs Assad, has said it was ready to mediate between Syria and Turkey if necessary.
The official said Turkey, Russia and Iran planned to meet in Tehran early next month to further discuss Syria, including the developments in Idlib. A Russian delegation may come to Ankara before that to evaluate progress made on Idlib, the person said.