AL-MUKALLA: Yemen’s political and military leaders vowed on Wednesday to defeat Iran-backed Houthi militias after a twin missile attack targeted the army’s chief of staff and killed eight soldiers, including his son.
Lt. Gen. Sagheer bin Aziz survived the attack overnight on Tuesday at a military headquarters in Marib province, northeast of the capital Sanaa. One of his sons and a nephew, both officers, were killed, along with six others.
After the attack, Gen. Bin Aziz issued a message of defiance, and said the missile strikes had made him all the more determined to press ahead with military operations until the Houthis were expelled.
Offering his condolences, President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi said the “cowardly” Houthi attack would not stop Yemeni army troops from liberating the country from the militias.
Yemen’s parliamentary speaker Sultan Al-Barakani said: “Our armed forces must respond to the criminals and punish them. The liberation battle will come. Losing a hero in the battle for dignity will boost our people’s determination to achieve victory.”
Houthis have escalated their missile and drone attacks on the province of Marib since early this year, apparently trying to push deeper into the city of Marib, which hosts thousands of government troops and Saudi-led coalition military forces.
In January, a Houthi missile and drone attack targeted a military training camp in Marib, killing more than 110 soldiers and triggering heavy clashes on the battlefields. The escalation has hampered UN efforts to broker a truce as the coronavirus spreads across the country.
The Yemeni government and the Saudi-led coalition have responded positively to the UN call for a humanitarian truce in Yemen and agreed to stop fighting if the Houthis adhered to it.
Yemen experts believe the Houthis are claiming to be committed to peace while cranking up their military pressure on Marib because of its oil and gas facilities.
“The Houthis haven’t indicated that they want to de-escalate in the first place,” Nadwa Al-Dawsari, a Yemeni conflict analyst and a non-resident fellow at the Middle East Institute, told Arab News.
She said the Houthis were unlikely to seek peace while they remained militarily powerful. “We can’t have peace if the Houthis are not weakened militarily,” she said. “When the Houthis fail, they resort to using missile attacks and bombing residential neighborhoods. It has happened in Marib and Taiz repeatedly.”
Meanwhile Saudi-led coalition forces in Yemen intercepted and shot down a Houthi drone on Wednesday launched at the Saudi border city of Najran. Coalition spokesman Col. Turki Al-Maliki said the Houthis continued to violate international humanitarian law by targeting civilians and residential areas.