Yemen govt forces repel Houthi attack and secure new areas

A Yemeni man receives treatment at a hospital in Aden. (File/AP)
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Updated 02 June 2020

Yemen govt forces repel Houthi attack and secure new areas

  • Hundreds of civilians have been forced into seeking refugee in Marib city after fleeing their homes and displacement camps in Nehim district and Marib province following Houthi territorial gains early this year

AL-MUKALLA: At least 30 Houthis have been killed in heavy fighting with government forces in the past 48 hours in the mountainous Nehim district near the rebel-occupied city of Sanaa, as shells killed several civilians in the western city of Hodeida, Yemen’s Defense Ministry and local officials said.
Backed by Arab coalition warplanes, Yemen army troops and allied tribesmen on Sunday pushed back an offensive by the Iran-backed Houthis in Nehim and killed more than 30 rebels, the government’s Armed Forces Media Center said.
Houthis have been mounting attacks on government forces in Nehim in an attempt to push loyalists away from Sanaa and to advance toward the central city
of Marib. The government media center said that coalition warplanes targeted Houthi military reinforcements, destroying 10 military vehicles and killing several Houthis, which enabled government forces on the ground to repel the Houthi attack and secure new areas.
Coalition warplanes also destroyed five Houthi military vehicles in other contested locations in Nehim.
Fighting has been raging in Nehim since early this year as government troops push to make a major military breakthrough in the battlefield that has experienced military stalemate since 2016.
Hundreds of civilians have been forced into seeking refugee in Marib city after fleeing their homes and displacement camps in Nehim district and Marib province following Houthi territorial gains early this year.
Yemen’s Defense Ministry said on Monday that coalition warplanes carried out several airstrikes on Houthi military gatherings in Serwah, the last district under Houthi control in Marib, killing and injuring several Houthis and destroying their military equipment.

Shelling
Four civilians were killed and 18 wounded when mortar shells hit Al-Zuhur neighborhood on Sunday in the Red Sea city of Hodeidah, the MSF international medical
charity said.

BACKGROUND

Houthis have been mounting attacks on government forces in Nehim in an attempt to push loyalists away from Sanaa and to advance toward the central city of Marib.

“Twenty-two wounded were received today in the MSF-supported Al Salakhana hospital due to shelling attacks in Al-Zuhur neighborhood in Hodeidah city this afternoon. Our team performed six emergency surgeries and treated less severe injuries. 16 patients were children, one of them died,” the organization said on Twitter, urging warring factions in Yemen to avoid targeting residential areas.
“MSF condemns the attack and calls for urgent measures to ensure that civilians are protected in the ongoing conflict. We are deeply concerned that the majority
of victims of the shelling we received were children,” the organization said.
The Houthis swiftly blamed government forces for targeting the residential area in Hodeidah.
But a local army officer from the government-controlled side of the city told Arab News on Monday that the Houthis targeted the area with mortar shells.
Local organizations that document civilian deaths in Hodeida say that more than 500 civilians have been killed in Houthi shelling and land mines since late 2018 when the internationally recognized government and the Houthis signed the Stockholm Agreement that was designed to defuse hostilities in Hodeidah.

Abyan
In the southern province of Abyan, a local government officer said on Monday that government troops sporadically exchanged heavy arms and mortar shells with separatists as the army continued to dispatch tanks, armored fighting vehicles and other equipment to Abyan ahead of a new offensive to push separatists out of Aden and neighboring provinces.
“We are determined to recapture Aden. This is a fateful battle,” the senior officer, who wished to remain anonymous, told Arab News.
On May 11, government troops, stationed in Abyan’s Shouqra, launched an offensive to push separatists out of Abyan and Aden after the separatist Southern Transitional Council declared self-rule in Aden and other southern provinces. On Sunday, media outlets affiliated with separatists broadcast footage of seized military vehicles reportedly abandoned by government troops.
Coronavirus cases
The Aden-based national coronavirus committee reported on Sunday 13 cases in the provinces of Marib, Mahra, Abyan and Aden, bringing the total number of cases to 323, including 80 deaths and 14 recoveries.


Russia, China veto UN extension of cross-border aid in Syria

Updated 4 min 25 sec ago

Russia, China veto UN extension of cross-border aid in Syria

  • Beyond Russia and China, the other 13 council members voted to approve the draft
  • Moscow had asked that the extension be limited to six months

United Nations, US: Russia and China on Tuesday vetoed a UN Security Council resolution that would have extended authorization for cross-border humanitarian aid in Syria for a year, though Moscow swiftly proposed a more limited extension.
Germany and Belgium, two of the council’s non-permanent members, had drafted the resolution, which would have allowed aid to continue to pass through two points on the Turkish border without interference from Damascus.
Beyond Russia and China, the other 13 council members voted to approve the draft, the diplomats said.
During negotiations, Moscow had asked that the extension be limited to six months, rather than a year, and that it only be allowed at one border crossing, not two, they said.
“The draft resolution has not been adopted,” Germany’s UN ambassador Christoph Heusgen, the acting president of the body in July, confirmed in a letter to Council members.
Immediately after the vote, Russia proposed its own draft resolution.
Obtained by AFP, it repeats the call for a six-month extension, underlines the improvement in the delivery of humanitarian aid under the control of the Syrian regime, and excludes one of the two entry points into Syria — Bab Al-Salam — from the mechanism.
The results of a vote on that resolution will be known on Wednesday.
Authorization for cross-border humanitarian aid has existed since 2014, with periodic extensions. The latest extension expires on Friday.
Tuesday’s vote was the 15th time that Russia has used its veto since the start of the Syrian war in 2011, and the ninth for China.
They argue that the UN authorization violates Syria’s sovereignty, and that aid can increasingly be channelled through Syrian authorities.
Western nations and the UN secretariat however insist that cross-border aid is the only credible option, and that relief supplies would face multiple obstacles if they had to pass through Damascus’ control.
The veto was an “extremely negative development,” one European diplomat said on condition of anonymity.
“They want to strangle the population even more,” the diplomat said, adding that aid “cannot reach the population from one” crossing point.
“Insisting on only one crossing point is cynical and it doesn’t meet the needs of the people,” the source said.
The Bab Al-Hawa crossing point allows for shipments of humanitarian aid to the three to four million people living in the opposition-held Idlib region.
The International Rescue Committee quickly condemned the veto.
“Blocking access to food, health care supplies, vaccines, and ventilators is unacceptable anytime but in the year of COVID-19, it is even more reprehensible,” said IRC president David Miliband in a statement.
After the vote, China explained that it too was in favor of maintaining the cross-border authorization.
Its veto is due to the refusal of Germany and Belgium to take into account its request for a statement condemning the unilateral US sanctions imposed on Syria, Chinese diplomats said.
In January, Moscow, Syria’s closest ally, succeeded in having the crossing points reduced from four to two and in limiting the authorization to six months instead of a year, as had been done previously.
In a report in late June, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for a one-year extension of the use of the two crossing points.
Guterres said that since 2014, 4,774 trucks have used the Bab Al-Salam crossing and 28,574 have used Bab Al-Hawa.
According to a report published by the UN in Geneva on Tuesday, the humanitarian situation in Idlib province is disastrous.
“Syria’s economy is devastated,” said Hanny Megally, one of the authors of the report.
“The country has been in a nine-year conflict. People are suffering.”