Houthi fire, land mines killed 70 civilians in January

The Iran-backed Houthis committed 389 violations that led to the death of 70 civilians across Yemen last month. (Reuters/File photo)
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Updated 17 February 2020

Houthi fire, land mines killed 70 civilians in January

  • Field teams also documented the abduction of 82 civilians
  • Thousands of land mines left behind in liberated areas have claimed the lives of hundreds of civilians

AL-MUKALLA: The Iran-backed Houthis committed 389 violations that led to the death of 70 civilians across Yemen last month, a local rights group said on Saturday.

The Yemeni Network for Rights and Freedom, a gathering of local and international rights groups that document civilian casualties in the country, said that thousands of land mines planted by Houthis killed 19 civilians while heavy artillery fire killed 51 civilians across Yemen last month. 

It added that its field teams had documented the abduction of 82 civilians, including four women, and the forcible disappearance of 24 Houthi opponents. Houthis also committed 152 violations against peoples’ properties such as raiding and torching the houses of their opponents since early last month.

The rights group said that the figures were based on interviews with victims of Houthi actions, and that some of the breaches seriously violated international humanitarian law and constituted war crimes.

Rights groups have said that Houthis have almost emptied Sanaa and other areas under their control from opponents since seizing power in late 2014.

Thousands of land mines left behind in liberated areas have claimed the lives of hundreds of civilians and injured thousands.

Fighting increased in Yemen’s main battlefields of Sanaa, Marib, Jawf and Taiz as government forces announced the death and injury of hundreds of Houthis since early last month. 

In the northern province of Jawf, army commanders denied media reports by Houthis that they had scored territorial gains in the province, adding that the Houthis suffered heavy losses over the last couple of weeks.

State TV quoted Brig. Gen. Abdullah Al-Dhawi, the commander of 127 Infantry Brigade in Jawf, as saying that as many as 900 Houthi fighters had been killed or injured in heavy clashes with government forces since the middle of last month, and that army troops had pushed ahead inside Houthi-controlled areas in the province.

State TV broadcast footage on Saturday showed Yemeni army troops gunning down Houthi fighters as forces stormed rebels’ rocky defenses on Jawf’s mountains.

Pro-government media also quoted Brig. Gen. Ali Mosen Al-Hadi, from the 6th Military Region in Jawf, as saying that the Yemeni army backed by local tribesmen had inflicted heavy blows to the Houthis over the last three days and that bodies of fighters were still scattered on the battlefields. He added that Houthis fabricated stories about their victories to boost morale.

“The Houthi militia has not advanced a single inch in Jawf and the battles are still continuing on the borders of the 7th Military Region in Jaresheb and Jam mountains in Nehim district,” Al-Hadi said.

In the province of Saada, the Houthi heartland, official media said that Saudi-led coalition warplanes targeted a Houthi command room in Saada’s Haydan region, battering the building and killing rebels. 

Yemen’s defense minister said that the army pushed back Houthi attacks in Al-Safra district. Massive military logistics and air cover from the coalition have enabled Yemeni government forces to tilt the balance of the war in its favor and reverse territorial gains made by Houthis.


Coronavirus claims over 20,000 lives across Mideast, half in Iran

Updated 38 min 54 sec ago

Coronavirus claims over 20,000 lives across Mideast, half in Iran

  • 907,736 reported infections and 20,005 deaths from the COVID-19
  • Iran has been struggling to contain the outbreak since announcing its first cases

PARIS: The novel coronavirus pandemic has killed more than 20,000 people across the Middle East, half of them in Iran, according to an AFP tally at 1000 GMT Sunday based on official tolls.
But despite having 907,736 reported infections and 20,005 deaths from the COVID-19 illness, the Middle East has been relatively lightly hit by the virus which has killed over half a million people across the globe.
Iran, which has been struggling to contain the outbreak since announcing its first cases in February, has reported more than 12,829 deaths and 257,303 infections, according to Sunday’s official figures.
With a population of more than 80 million, Iran is the 9th worst-affected country in the world and has seen the region’s deadliest outbreak.
Infections in the Islamic republic have been on the rise since early May, prompting authorities to make wearing masks mandatory in enclosed public spaces.
On Sunday the country’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called the resurgence “truly tragic” and urged all citizens to help rein it in.
In the region covered by Iran in the north and east, Israel in the west and Yemen in the south, the other worst-hit countries are Iraq and neighboring Kuwait, as well as Saudi Arabia and war-torn Yemen.
Iraq is the second-most affected nation in the Middle East with 3,055 deaths and 75,194 infections, followed by Saudi Arabia with 2,181 deaths and 229,480 infections.
Yemen, one of the world’s poorest nations, has recorded 464 deaths and 1,380 infections, while Kuwait has confirmed 386 deaths and 54,058 infections.
Iran also ranks as the region’s worst-affect country on a per-capita basis, with 153 deaths per million — 25th worldwide — followed by Kuwait with 90 deaths per million and Saudi Arabia with 63.
According to the AFP tally, the average number of deaths in the region is 43 per million inhabitants, against a global average of around 70.
The Middle East represents around 3.5 percent of all global deaths, far behind Europe (one third), North America (one quarter) and Latin America and the Caribbean (one quarter).