Yemen Army foils Houthi attempt to take over Taiz

The city of Taiz has seen the bloodiest battles between government forces and the militias since early 2015. (AFP)
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Updated 14 February 2020

Yemen Army foils Houthi attempt to take over Taiz

  • Several Iranian-backed militants killed while trying to lay siege on city

AL-MUKALLA: Dozens of Houthi militants have been killed in Yemen’s southern city of Taiz as the Iran-backed militias push to break army’s lines of defenses and to reimpose their siege on the city, an army spokesperson told Arab News on Wednesday.

Col. Abdul Basit Al-Baher said attacks on government forces on all fronts around the city had escalated in an attempt to make a major breakthrough.

“The national army has foiled all attempts to make gains,” Al-Baher said, adding that loyalist forces had also shelled a Houthi training camp in the west of the city.

The city of Taiz has seen the bloodiest battles between government forces and the militias since early 2015, when the rebels moved a large number of forces from Sanaa to bring the city under their control. 

Despite their numerical advantage, the Houthis failed to push into the city’s downtown area, limiting them to the outskirts where they imposed a siege that brought Taiz to the edge of starvation.

FASTFACT

Despite their numerical advantage, the Houthis failed to push into the city’s downtown area, limiting them to the outskirts where they imposed a siege that brought Taiz to the edge of starvation.

Government forces have managed to recapture the western edge of the city and reopened a strategic road that linked the city with the southern port of Aden, which enabled the government to funnel vital humanitarian and military supplies to the city’s inhabitants.

Al-Baher said the Houthis had launched simultaneous attacks on the edges of the city for the first time in months.

“Their recent attacks have focused on all fronts around the city,” he said, adding that at least 59 Houthis and nine loyalists were killed in the latest clashes. Al-Baher also said that if the Houthis successfully laid siege again, it would put the lives of tens of thousands of people at risk.

In the southern province of Abyan, a government soldier was killed and several others injured when missiles fired by militiamen exploded inside their military base in the district of Lawder on Tuesday, local media said.

Fighting was also reported in the northern province of Jawf, where government forces attacked Houthi positions under air cover from the Saudi-led coalition.

Hospitals attacked

Local health authorities in the province of Marib have said that three health facilities, out of the region’s 12, had been completely destroyed by Houthi shelling over the last five years.

The remaining nine facilities had all been damaged by fighting, and seven health workers had been killed in different districts in Marib, according to the provincial office of the Ministry of Health.

Houthi missile and mortar fire has killed hundreds of civilians and soldiers in Marib over the last several months.


Coronavirus: 16 killed in Iran, 95 infected

Workers disinfect Qom’s Masumeh shrine, which is visited by a large number of people, to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. (AFP)
Updated 26 February 2020

Coronavirus: 16 killed in Iran, 95 infected

  • Six Saudi women recovering in Bahrain as Kingdom warns against travel to Italy and Japan

DUBAI: Two more people infected with the new coronavirus have died, taking the toll in Iran to 16, a Health Ministry official told state TV on Tuesday.

Iran has the highest number of deaths from coronavirus outside China, where the virus emerged late last year.
“Among those who had been suspected of the virus, 35 have been confirmed and two died of the coronavirus infection,” said Health Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour. He said 95 people had been infected across Iran.
The Health Ministry urged Iranians to stay at home.
Iran said on Monday 900 cases were suspected, dismissing claims by a lawmaker from Qom who said 50 people had died in the city, the epicenter of the new coronavirus outbreak.
Iran, which confirmed its first two deaths last week in Qom, has yet to say how many people it has quarantined, but the semi-official Mehr news agency said 320 people had been hospitalized.
Iraj Harirchi, Iran’s deputy health minister, has tested positive for the coronavirus and is now under quarantine.
Six Arab countries have reported their first cases of coronavirus, with those infected all having links to Iran. Kuwait said the number of infected people there had risen to eight.
Bahrain’s Health Ministry said 15 more people, including six Saudi women, had tested positive for the virus after returning from Iran via Dubai and Sharjah. The new cases were carried by Bahraini and Saudi nationals who arrived at Bahrain International Airport from Iran via Dubai or Sharjah.
The Saudi Ministry of Health said that it was coordinating with Bahraini health officials for the treatment of the Saudi women who had visited Iran. They will remain in Bahrain until they are fully recovered. The Kingdom has advised citizens and residents to avoid traveling to Italy and Japan.
Iranian authorities have ordered the nationwide cancellation of concerts and soccer matches and the closure of schools and universities in many provinces.
The head of Qom’s Medical Science University, Mohammad Reza Ghadir, expressed concern over “the spread of those people infected by the virus across the city,” adding the Health Ministry had banned releasing figures linked to the coronavirus.
Many Iranians took to social media to accuse authorities of concealing the facts.
Rouhani called for calm, saying the outbreak was no worse than other epidemics that Iran has weathered.
The sight of Iranians wearing masks and gloves is now common in much of the country.
Sales of masks, disinfectant gels and disposable gloves have soared in Tehran and other cities, with officials vowing to prevent hoarding and shortages by boosting production.
Iran has shut schools, universities and cultural centers until the end of the week in an effort to stop the spread of coronavirus.
The UAE has banned all flights to and from Iran. The UAE, home to long-haul carriers Emirates and Etihad, remains a key international transit route for Iran’s 80 million people.
Emirates, the government-owned carrier based in Dubai, flies daily to Tehran. Its low-cost sister airline, FlyDubai, flies to multiple Iranian cities, as does the Sharjah-based low-cost carrier Air Arabia.
The announcement came after Bahrain said it would suspend all flights from Dubai and Sharjah.
Kuwait raised the number of its infected cases to eight, after earlier raising the number to five. It said the three latest cases involved Kuwaiti citizens just back from Iran, without giving more details. The five previously reported cases were passengers returning on a flight from the Iranian city of Mashhad, where Iran’s government has not yet announced a single case of the virus.
Kuwait had halted transport links with Iran over the weekend and said it was evacuating its citizens from Iran.
An Iraqi family of four who returned from a visit to Iran tested positive for the coronavirus, the first Iraqis known to have caught the disease.
The four cases in Kirkuk province brought Iraq’s total to five after it reported its first case on Monday, an Iranian theology student in Najaf. Iraq is deeply concerned about its exposure to the Iranian outbreak, as it has deep cultural and religious ties with its neighbor and typically receives millions of Iranians each year.
The Iraqi government, which has already banned all travel from China and Iran, added Italy, Thailand, South Korea, Singapore and Japan to its travel ban list on Tuesday. Returning Iraqi citizens are exempt, as are diplomats.
Populist Shiite cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr suspended a call for his followers to hold a “million-man” protest, saying he had decide to forbid the events “for your health and life, for they are more important to me than anything else.”
“I had called for million-man protests and sit-ins against sectarian power-sharing and today I forbid you from them for your health and life, for they are more important to me than anything else,” he said in a statement. It was not immediately clear how the government’s call on citizens to avoid public gatherings would affect the strength of anti-government protests, and the response of security forces.
A Turkish Airlines plane flying from Iran was diverted to Ankara on Tuesday at the Turkish Health Ministry’s request and an aviation news website said one passenger was suspected of being infected by coronavirus.
Turkey’s Demiroren news agency broadcast video showing ambulances lined up beside the plane, with several personnel wearing white protective suits on the tarmac.
The plane was flying from Tehran and had been scheduled to land in Istanbul. Turkey shut its borders to Iran on Sunday and cut flights due to the spread of the virus in that country.
Oman’s Khasab port has suspended the import and export of goods to and from Iran from Feb. 26.