Yemen’s Marib province safe from Houthis, says governor

Yemeni tribesmen from the Popular Resistance Committees keep watch at Nihm district in Yemen's northeastern province of Marib on February 2, 2018. (AFP)
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Updated 28 January 2020

Yemen’s Marib province safe from Houthis, says governor

  • The province’s military bases have been used by the army and the coalition for training and arming thousands of soldiers who are battling Houthis in Nehim, Marib’s Serwah, Baydha and Taiz

AL-MUKALLA, YEMEN: The central Yemeni province of Marib is safe from Houthi attacks, its governor told media on Sunday, amid reports that the Iranian-backed militia was making territorial gains in a neighboring district.
“We will never allow Houthis to pollute Marib,” Major Sultan Al-Aradah said, adding that thousands of tribesmen and troops were ready to resist Houthi approaches to the province’s borders.
He told reporters that Marib had become a safe haven for thousands of internally displaced people who had fled a Houthi crackdown in Sanaa and other rebel-held areas.
“Marib will remain committed to its political leadership, the government, the (Saudi-led) coalition and the people. It will be protected by its honorable men (who come) from the army, security services and the Yemenis who live here,” the governor said, welcoming the coalition’s support.
Marib has hosted thousands of Yemeni army troops and others from the Saudi-led coalition, in addition to thousands of people who have fled their homes in Houthi-controlled territories.
The province’s military bases have been used by the army and the coalition for training and arming thousands of soldiers who are battling Houthis in Nehim, Marib’s Serwah, Baydha and Taiz.
An escalation of fighting in Nehim, Sanaa, has forced dozens of displaced people into fleeing their camps outside Marib city and heading to Hadramout.
Residents in Hadramout’s Aber district told Arab News that families had started arriving.
State media said on Monday that Saudi-led coalition warplanes had carried out intense airstrikes targeting Houthi locations in Nehim and Jawf.

BACKGROUND

Houthis have focused attacks on the western side of Taiz in an attempt to seize control of an important road that links the city with the southern port city of Aden.

A Houthi leader, Abu Abdul Aziz, and a number of militants were killed on Sunday as government forces engaged in heavy fighting on the western and eastern edges of the southern city of Taiz.
Local army officers said the government’s escalation of fighting was aimed at easing the pressure on loyalists on Nehim’s battlegrounds.
“The battlefields are connected. What happens here in Taiz will definitely affect the other battlefields,” Abdul Basit Al-Baher, a Yemeni army spokesman in Taiz, told Arab News. “Fighting has not ceased since yesterday afternoon,” he said, adding that the dead Houthi leader was thought to be the second or third most important rebel military commander in Taiz.
A mortar shell fired by Houthis landed at a local market on the city’s western outskirts, killing three civilians and injuring several others.
“They have fired at least 13 mortars and Katyusha rockets at residential areas in Taiz over the last several hours,” Al-Baher said on Monday.
Houthis have focused their attacks on the western side of Taiz in an attempt to seize control of an important road that links the city with the southern port city of Aden.


Turkey says it destroyed ‘chemical warfare facility’ in Syria

Updated 29 February 2020

Turkey says it destroyed ‘chemical warfare facility’ in Syria

  • Thirty-three Turkish soldiers were killed in an air strike by Russian-backed Syrian regime forces in the Idlib region on Thursday
  • Erdogan may travel next week to Moscow for talks

BEIRUT/ISTANBUL: Turkish ground and air strikes on Syrian government forces and their allies in northwest Syria’s Idlib have killed 48 pro-Damascus soldiers in the past 24 hours, the Syrian Observatory, a war monitor, reported on Saturday.
It said that Syrian government and Russian warplanes continued air strikes on Saturday on the strategic eastern Idlib city of Saraqeb, a focal point of intensified fighting in recent days between Turkish-backed rebels and Damascus.

Meanwhile, Turkish official said Saturday that Turkey destroyed a chemical warfare facility after dozens of its soldiers were killed by Syrian regime fire in the last-rebel enclave of Idlib province.
The Turkish army destroyed overnight “a chemical warfare facility, located some 13 kilometres south of Aleppo, along with a large number of other regime targets,” the senior official told reporters on condition of anonymity.
However, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which relies on sources inside the war-torn country, said that Turkey instead hit a military airport in eastern Aleppo, where the monitoring group says there are no chemical weapons.
Thirty-three Turkish soldiers were killed in an air strike by Russian-backed Syrian regime forces in the Idlib region on Thursday, the biggest Turkish military loss on the battlefield in recent years.
The latest incident has raised further tensions between Ankara and Moscow, whose relationship has been tested by violations of a 2018 deal to prevent a regime offensive on Idlib.

Moscow and Ankara expressed hope for a “reduction in tensions” in Syria during high-level Russian-Turkish talks in recent days, Russia’s foreign ministry said Saturday.
“On both sides, the focus has been on reducing tensions on the ground while continuing to fight terrorists recognised as such by the United Nations Security Council,” Moscow’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
Officials from both Turkey and Russia also said they want to “protect civilians inside and outside the (Idlib) de-escalation zone and provide emergency humanitarian aid to all those in need,” the ministry said.
On Friday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin expressed their concern over the situation in Idlib during a telephone conversation.
The Kremlin said the two leaders could meet in Moscow next week.
As part of the agreement, Ankara set up 12 observation posts in the province but Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad’s forces -- backed by Russian air power -- have pressed on with a relentless campaign to take back the region.
On Friday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke by phone with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in a bid to scale down the tensions.
Erdogan may travel next week to Moscow for talks, according to the Kremlin.
Despite being on opposite ends, Turkey, which backs several rebel groups in Syria, and key regime ally Russia are trying to find a political solution to the Syria conflict.