Yemen Army foils Houthi attempt to take over Taiz

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

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.


Patients die at home as Lebanese oxygen supplies run low

Patients die at home as Lebanese oxygen supplies run low
Lebanese soldiers patrol as they try to enforce a total lockdown in the southern suburbs of Beirut as a measure against the COVID-19 pandemic. (AFP)
Updated 2 min 51 sec ago

Patients die at home as Lebanese oxygen supplies run low

Patients die at home as Lebanese oxygen supplies run low
  • Hospitals are running out of space and supplies as infections continue to rise

BEIRUT: Many doctors specializing in bacterial and infectious diseases expect a further jump in the number of people of infected with COVID-19 next week in Lebanon with hospitals exceeding their capacity.

On Sunday, the total number of laboratory-confirmed infections exceeded a quarter of a million people in the country.

In the first 17 days of the year 67,655 new cases were recorded, and the lockdown period is expected to be extended for at least 10 more days.

Suleiman Haroun, head of the Lebanese Syndicate of Private Hospitals, said: “The epidemiological scene in Lebanon reflects part of the reality, not all of it. The real situation will be worse yet.”

He said: “All the beds designated for COVID-19 patients in hospitals are occupied, as well as in emergency departments, and there are dozens of patients moving from one hospital to another in search of a bed. Hospitals have exceeded their capacity.”

Pulmonologist and intensive care specialist Dr. Wael Jaroush said: “I have never seen anything like what I see in the hospitals now. I never imagined that I would ever go through such an experience. There is no room for patients in the emergency departments.

“They are dying in their homes. Some of them are begging to buy oxygen generators, new or second hand.

“The price of a new one is normally $700, yet people are selling used devices for about $5,000, and some patients are forced to buy them in foreign currency, meaning that the patient’s family buy the dollar on the black market for more than LBP8,000.”

Jaroush said that patients were infected with the virus because of mixing with other people at the end of last year and in the first 10 days of January. He expected that their number would increase during Monday and Tuesday. He would wait to see if the numbers declined on Wednesday and Thursday.

He said that 10-liter oxygen bottles and smaller ones are out of stock “because of the high demand on them, either for storage due to lack of confidence in the state, or because they are not available in hospitals.”

“As a doctor, I come across patients who tell me that they bought the oxygen bottle two months ago, for example, and put it in their homes, just as they did when they resorted to storing medicines.”

He pointed out: “These oxygen bottles do not last long. A COVID-19 patient who cannot find a vacant bed in the hospital and is asked to find oxygen and stay at home needs 40 or 50 liters of oxygen. So when the 10-liter oxygen bottle runs out, the patient dies because his heart stops. This is happening now and some patients have died in their homes.”

Jaroush said: “The cardiologist Dr. Mustafa Al-Khatib suffered from COVID-19 yesterday and could not find even a chair in the emergency department. Since yesterday we doctors have been trying to find a place for him so that he can have a blood test and a scan for his lungs. This is our situation.”

On Sunday, it was announced that the Military Hospital in Beirut also exceeded its capacity. The hospital cares for military personnel and their families.

This prompted its management to take 23 rooms in a private hospital that was damaged in the Beirut port explosion last August. The Lebanese Army Works Regiment is working to make it available within days to accommodate cases that need intensive care.

In addition to the lack of capacity, there was also a lack of medical supplies.

Activists on social media circulated calls to secure oxygen bottles that are needed for patients in hospitals that are needed for patients.

The search for hospital beds has caused disputes between the Lebanese Red Cross paramedics and some hospitals.

Georges Kettaneh, Lebanese Red Cross secretary-general, said: “The Red Cross responds to all crises in the country, especially COVID-19, and from the beginning we demanded hospitals to be ready. It was expected that disputes would arise between the Red Cross and some hospitals due to the decision of the Minister of Health in the caretaker government, Hamad Hassan, to receive all cases in hospitals.”

Assem Araji, the head of parliament’s health committee, said: “Despite the sanctions that the Ministry of Health decided to impose on some private hospitals that did not respond to the request to open departments to receive patients, certain hospitals did not comply. We have reached a catastrophic stage that calls for national responsibility.”

Araji expressed his belief that “a complete lockdown for 11 days is not sufficient to limit the spread of the virus. Rather, it should be closed for three weeks, as recommended by the World Health Organization.”

Many well-known figures in Lebanon have died of the coronavirus during the past days.