What next for children of Daesh detainees confined in Syrian camps?

Hundreds of offspring of foreign recruits are trapped in overcrowded camps following the collapse of the Daesh caliphate. (Supplied)
1 / 8
Hundreds of offspring of foreign recruits are trapped in overcrowded camps following the collapse of the Daesh caliphate. (Supplied)
Syrian women and children, suspected of being related to the Daesh caliphate fighters, gather at the Kurdish-run al-Hol camp in northeast Syria before being released to return to their homes on Dec. 21, 2020. (Photo by Delil Souleiman / AFP)
2 / 8
Syrian women and children, suspected of being related to the Daesh caliphate fighters, gather at the Kurdish-run al-Hol camp in northeast Syria before being released to return to their homes on Dec. 21, 2020. (Photo by Delil Souleiman / AFP)
Syrian women and children, suspected of being related to the Daesh caliphate fighters, gather at the Kurdish-run al-Hol camp in northeast Syria before being released to return to their homes on Dec. 21, 2020. (Photo by Delil Souleiman / AFP)
3 / 8
Syrian women and children, suspected of being related to the Daesh caliphate fighters, gather at the Kurdish-run al-Hol camp in northeast Syria before being released to return to their homes on Dec. 21, 2020. (Photo by Delil Souleiman / AFP)
A Syrian mother and and child, suspected of being related to the Daesh caliphate fighters, gather at the Kurdish-run al-Hawl camp in northeast Syria before being released to return to their homes on Dec. 21, 2020. (Photo by Delil Souleiman / AFP)
4 / 8
A Syrian mother and and child, suspected of being related to the Daesh caliphate fighters, gather at the Kurdish-run al-Hawl camp in northeast Syria before being released to return to their homes on Dec. 21, 2020. (Photo by Delil Souleiman / AFP)
A member of Kurdish security forces watches as Daesh families load their belongings onto trucks before leaving the Kurdish-run al-Hawl camp in northeastern Syria on November 16, 2020. (Photo by Delil Souleiman / AFP)
5 / 8
A member of Kurdish security forces watches as Daesh families load their belongings onto trucks before leaving the Kurdish-run al-Hawl camp in northeastern Syria on November 16, 2020. (Photo by Delil Souleiman / AFP)
Syrians wait to leave the Kurdish-run al-Hawl camp holding relatives of suspected Daesh fighters in northeastern Syria on Nov. 24, 2020. (Photo by Delil Souleiman / AFP)
6 / 8
Syrians wait to leave the Kurdish-run al-Hawl camp holding relatives of suspected Daesh fighters in northeastern Syria on Nov. 24, 2020. (Photo by Delil Souleiman / AFP)
Syrians wait to leave the Kurdish-run al-Hawl camp holding relatives of suspected Daesh fighters in northeastern Syria on Nov. 24, 2020. (Photo by Delil Souleiman / AFP)
7 / 8
Syrians wait to leave the Kurdish-run al-Hawl camp holding relatives of suspected Daesh fighters in northeastern Syria on Nov. 24, 2020. (Photo by Delil Souleiman / AFP)
Families of Daesh caliphate fighters get ready to be transported home from the Kurdish-run al-Hawl camp in northeastern Syria on January 19, 2021. (AFP)
8 / 8
Families of Daesh caliphate fighters get ready to be transported home from the Kurdish-run al-Hawl camp in northeastern Syria on January 19, 2021. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 19 February 2021

What next for children of Daesh detainees confined in Syrian camps?

What next for children of Daesh detainees confined in Syrian camps?
  • Acute malnutrition, dehydration and diarrhea common among the innocent victims of war held in Al-Hawl and Al-Roj
  • Experts say the best way to shield the inmates from the influence of Daesh ideology is via rehabilitation and deradicalization

LONDON: Al-Hawl and Al-Roj, two squalid, horribly overcrowded detention camps in northeast Syria, are home to some 70,000 people — around 80 percent of them women and children — all in some way associated with Daesh, the terror group that dominated a third of the country and whole swathes of neighboring Iraq between 2014 and 2017.

Among them, some 27,500 children are waiting to be repatriated. Around 975 have been repatriated since 2017 — 70 percent of these in 2019. However, repatriations fell to around 200 children in 2020, down from 685 the previous year, due in part to travel restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. But political considerations are also in play.

Dr. Azeem Ibrahim, a director at the Center for Global Policy, Washington, D.C., who compiled a report for Arab News Research and Studies Unit based on field research in Syria and Turkey in 2020, believes the question of whether or not to repatriate these children is “unambiguous” and should be dealt with urgently.

 

“Everybody accepts that these children are completely innocent. Many of them were born in Syria and Iraq, many of them were born in the refugee camps, many of them were just brought over by family members at a very young age and they are now in their teens,” Ibrahim told an Arab News webinar on Thursday.

“Almost everybody accepts they are innocent parties in this conflict and should be repatriated to their countries of origin as soon as possible. Because being situated in the camps long term is not just detrimental to them, it’s actually detrimental to our security over the long term. You are essentially now grooming the next generation of Daesh radicals.”

While the vast majority of the camp residents are from Iraq and Syria, about 13,500 of the children held in the camps hail from 70 different countries, including the US, Canada, Russia, Britain, France, Turkey and South Asia. Around two-thirds of the foreign children are aged under 12 — most of them under five.

According to Save the Children, some 30 percent of the under-fives screened at the camps since in early February were suffering from acute malnutrition. The World Food Program (WFP) says it has recorded several cases of dehydration and diarrhea. And conditions are deteriorating. More than 500 people died in the camps in 2019, including 371 children.

Overcrowding is one of the key health concerns, particularly given the threat of communicable diseases like COVID-19. Al-Hawl was originally established to host just 10,000 people. Today it contains 64,000.

“They suffer stigmatization, unclear status, lack of clear pathways around reintegration — their basic human rights,” said Orlaith Minogue, who participated in the same webinar in her capacity as senior conflict and humanitarian advocacy adviser to Save the Children UK.

“Throughout the camps, critical gaps exist in all sectors: water, sanitation, hygiene, health, nutrition, education and protection. Our colleagues have reported seeing children who are bowlegged, which can be the result of Vitamin D deficiency. Children’s teeth are rotting. It’s those broader medical issues that over a period of time can become quite debilitating for children.”

 

Tens of thousands of women and children poured out of Baghouz in Syria’s eastern Deir ez-Zor province when the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) liberated this final sliver of territory from Daesh in March 2019, backed by the US, UK and other members of the international coalition.

Truckloads of hungry and bewildered survivors were moved from the front lines into poorly equipped camps, where they have remained under SDF guard ever since — their status unclear and their future undetermined.

Aid agencies and overstretched Kurdish authorities have repeatedly called on foreign governments to repatriate their nationals, warning further delay will cause greater suffering and loss of life and might allow radicalized inmates to escape and launch a new insurgency.

Read the full Arab News Research & Studies report here

However, foreign governments have been reluctant to take back their nationals, fearing the move would prove politically unpopular at home and pose a security threat should courts lack sufficient evidence to prosecute suspected militants.

“I have had discussions with various politicians on this topic. Their reluctance to repatriate individuals just comes down to a political calculation,” said Ibrahim. “Because if any of these individuals come back and even one of them is involved in some sort of terrorist activity, some sort of attack, a knife attack on the streets of London or Manchester or elsewhere, the first question that will be asked is, Why did you allow these people to come back?”




Syrians wait to leave the Kurdish-run al-Hawl camp holding relatives of suspected Daesh fighters in northeastern Syria on Nov. 24, 2020. (Photo by Delil Souleiman / AFP)

Several French nationals have been handed over to Iraq’s criminal justice system rather than face domestic courts, but human rights groups want to see far greater international oversight to prevent abuses.

Some governments have brought home women and children on a case-by-case basis — each time grappling with the moral implications of separating children from their mothers.

“We don’t believe the repatriation policy should be limited solely to unaccompanied or orphaned children or to a cumbersome case-by-case approach that has been taken on by a number of states,” said Minogue. “It has been demonstrated repatriation is feasible. We think all of these children, including those with their mothers, are innocent victims of this conflict and should be repatriated to their home countries with urgency.

 

 

“Any decisions about what happens between mother and child, should happen back in their country of origin, in capitals where there are the services and where there are the professionals who are able to make those determinations.”

When Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi announced his self-styled caliphate on June 29, 2014, thousands of men and women from across the world heeded his call to build an “Islamic State” straddling the group’s newly conquered territories in Iraq and Syria.

Young men traveled thousands of miles to fight in the group’s ranks, while women and teenage girls, some with children in tow, came in search of the lifestyle promised to them by the group’s slick online propagandists. Instead, many found a world of barbarity and genocide, wrapped up in a warped interpretation of Islam.

Read the full Arab News Research & Studies report here

After the “caliphate” fell, the children born to these foreign recruits found themselves trapped in a kind of legal limbo — effectively citizens of nowhere.

Since the group’s territorial defeat in early 2019, there has been mounting concern about a potential resurgence among youngsters hardened by life in the camps.

The recent spate of murders in Al-Hawl shows “how unsustainable the situation is when you have many thousands of children essentially living out their childhoods in this dangerous, volatile situation,” said Minogue.




Syrians wait to leave the Kurdish-run al-Hawl camp holding relatives of suspected Daesh fighters in northeastern Syria on Nov. 24, 2020. (AFP)

“It’s never in the interests of a five-year-old child to languish in a camp with no services, among armed groups in a conflict zone. The idea that they know nothing else is very sad.”

Experts agree that the only way to defuse the potential threat in the long run is through rehabilitation and deradicalization, including psychological, psychiatric and spiritual support, to reintegrate these children into mainstream society.

Ibrahim wants to see young people removed from the camp environment immediately and moved to juvenile rehabilitation centers, where they can begin pro-socialization initiatives, with expertise from foreign governments and aid agencies.

However, the political will needed to resolve the issue has long been lacking, leaving the camps woefully underequipped, aid agencies underfunded and the chances of salvaging these childhoods even slimmer.

Read the full Arab News Research & Studies report here

_______

Twitter: @RobertPEdwards


Israel-Gaza violence shows few signs of slowing as global diplomacy ramps up

Israel-Gaza violence shows few signs of slowing as global diplomacy ramps up
Updated 18 May 2021

Israel-Gaza violence shows few signs of slowing as global diplomacy ramps up

Israel-Gaza violence shows few signs of slowing as global diplomacy ramps up
  • Palestinian death toll at 212, including 61 children and 36 women, since hostilities began last week
  • Ten people have been killed in Israel, including two children

GAZA/TEL AVIV: More than a week of fighting between Israel and Hamas showed few signs of abating on Tuesday despite intense US and global diplomacy to stop the region’s fiercest hostilities in years.
The Israeli military said late on Monday that Hamas and other Palestinian groups had fired about 3,350 rockets from Gaza – 200 of them on Monday alone – and that Israeli air and artillery strikes had killed at least 130 militants.
Gaza health officials put the Palestinian death toll at 212, including 61 children and 36 women, since hostilities began last week. Ten people have been killed in Israel, including two children.
Amid seemingly fruitless diplomatic efforts to stop the violence, the top US military officer, Army General Mark Milley, warned that the violence could spread.
“My assessment is that you risk broader destabilization and you risk a whole series of negative consequences if the fighting continues,” Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters before landing in Brussels on Monday for talks with NATO allies. “It’s in no one’s interest to continue fighting.”
Israeli air strikes on the Palestinian enclave continued overnight. Soon after dawn, missiles struck two buildings in Gaza City, sending plumes of thick smoke into the air.
Militants in the Strip fired rockets early on Tuesday that set off sirens in southern Israeli cities, sending thousands running for bomb shelters.
There were no immediate reports of injuries on either side.
The overnight rocket fire from Gaza appeared to be less than in previous nights. There was a six-hour lull in rocket fire overnight before they again began being launched at dawn, according to rocket siren information from the Israeli military.
US President Joe Biden expressed his support for a cease-fire during a call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday, the White House said in a statement.
But Netanyahu told Israelis earlier that strikes against militant sites and leaders in Gaza would carry on.
“The directive is to continue to strike at terror targets,” he said in a televised speech, after meeting with military and intelligence chiefs. “We will continue to act as necessary to restore peace and security to all residents of Israel.”
The armed wing of Hamas promised more rockets in return: “The criminal Zionist enemy intensified its bombing of homes and residential apartments in the recent hours, and therefore, we warn the enemy that if it did not stop that immediately, we would resume rocketing Tel Aviv,” said spokesman Abu Ubaida.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged all sides to protect civilians.
Although stressing that Israel had the right to defend itself, Blinken said he had not seen any evidence from Israel about its suggestion that Hamas was operating out of a building housing media outlets – including the US-based Associated Press – which was destroyed in an Israeli missile strike at the weekend.
Hamas denied having offices in the building. “These are false allegations and an attempt to justify the crime of targeting a civilian tower,” said Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum.
Egypt and UN mediators also stepped up diplomatic efforts, while the UN General Assembly will meet to discuss the violence on Thursday.
The Biden administration approved the potential sale of $735 million in precision-guided weapons to Israel, and congressional sources said on Monday that US lawmakers were not expected to object to the deal.
Hamas began its rocket assault last Monday after weeks of tensions over a court case to evict several Palestinian families in East Jerusalem, and in retaliation for Israeli police clashes with Palestinians near the city’s Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third-holiest site, during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
The hostilities between Israel and Hamas-controlled Gaza have been accompanied by an uptick of violence in the West Bank, where the Palestinians have limited self-rule.
There have also been clashes between Israel’s Jewish and Arab communities in mixed areas.
Israel’s president has warned that tension between Jewish and Arab Israelis could devolve into “civil war.”
General strikes are planned for Tuesday in Arab towns within Israel and Palestinian towns in the West Bank, with posts on social media urging solidarity “from the sea to the river.”


Israel shells Lebanon after failed launches toward Israeli territory

Israel shells Lebanon after failed launches toward Israeli territory
Updated 18 May 2021

Israel shells Lebanon after failed launches toward Israeli territory

Israel shells Lebanon after failed launches toward Israeli territory

TEL AVIV/BEIRUT: Six shells were fired from Lebanon towards northern Israel on Monday but fell short of crossing the border, the Israeli military said.
It said that in response, artillery was fired at "the sources of the launches" in Lebanon.
A Lebanese security source said shells were heard being fired from south Lebanon and efforts were being made to identify the location. The source said about 22 shells were fired by Israeli artillery on Lebanese territory.
There were no reports of casualties or damage, and the shelling did not appear to signal the opening of a new front in Israel's fighting with militants in the Gaza Strip.
The Lebanese shelling caused Israeli air raid sirens to blare near the kibbutz of Misgav Am, along Israel's northern border with Lebanon.
It was the second incident of cross-border fire in the past week. On Thursday, three rockets were launched from Lebanon toward northern Israel but landed in the Mediterranean Sea, causing no damage or casualties.
Israel fought a 2006 war against Hezbollah guerrillas, who have sway in southern Lebanon and advanced rockets. The border has been mostly quiet since then.
Small Palestinian factions in Lebanon have fired sporadically on Israel in the past.


Gaza facing water, power crisis after deadly Israeli attacks lift death toll to 200

Gaza facing water, power crisis after deadly Israeli attacks lift death toll to 200
A man inspects the rubble of destroyed commercial building and Gaza health care clinic following an Israeli airstrike on the upper floors of a commercial building in Gaza City, on Monday, May 17, 2021. (AP)
Updated 17 May 2021

Gaza facing water, power crisis after deadly Israeli attacks lift death toll to 200

Gaza facing water, power crisis after deadly Israeli attacks lift death toll to 200
  • Gaza City mayor Yahya Al-Sarraj accused Israel of deliberately targeting infrastructure and destroying main streets, including access to Al-Shifa Hospital
  • 59 children, 35 women among victims of Gaza strikes

GAZA CITY: Residents of the Gaza Strip were awakened in the early hours of Monday by the heaviest Israeli bombardment since the conflict escalated a week ago as residential buildings were hit and vital power and water links destroyed.

The overnight attacks brought the Palestinian death toll to almost 200, including 59 children and 35 women, while more than 1,300 have been injured.

Israel targeted homes, apartments and commercial buildings, and also struck a car and a cafeteria on the seashore, resulting in deaths and injuries.

The relentless bombardment has severely hit electricity, water and sanitation services in Gaza, raising fears of a deepening humanitarian crisis for the 2 million people living there.

Gaza City mayor Yahya Al-Sarraj said that essential services had been cut back significantly in recent days due to limited resources and damage to roads, power lines and water pipes.

He accused Israel of deliberately targeting infrastructure and destroying main streets, including access to Al-Shifa Hospital.

Sanitation and water supply to the population have been badly hit, Al-Sarraj told Arab News.

“The only desalination plant in Gaza City has stopped working as a result of the Israeli bombardment of the surrounding areas and the inability of workers to reach it, and the continuous electricity cuts have affected the pumping of water in the wells into homes,” he said.

Ziad Sheikh Khalil, 44, is trying to provide lighting for the house he shares with his wife and four children by charging batteries during the few hours that electricity is available.

“We hardly get three hours of electricity a day,” he told Arab News.

“When the power is on, all the family members work quickly to charge mobile phones, as well as operate the washing machine and pump water to the tanks at the top of the building.”

The Gaza Strip has suffered from severe electricity shortages for many years, but in recent days the crisis has worsened due to the lack of fuel and damage to the 10 power lines that come from Israel.

Six of Gaza’s 10 electricity lines are down and supply has been more than halved, according to Mohammed Thabet, a spokesperson for the Gaza Electricity Distribution Company.

“There are some border areas completely cut off from electricity,” he said.

Repair crews are unable to fix the lines due to continued attacks.

The closure of the Kerem Abu Salem crossing has also hit fuel supplies for the only power station in the Gaza Strip, he said.

Thabit added: “Electricity networks inside the Gaza Strip also have been hit by the Israeli bombing of residential areas. It increases the difficulties facing the company.”

 


Jordan MPs launch diplomatic assault on Israel with call for envoy’s expulsion

Jordan MPs launch diplomatic assault on Israel with call for envoy’s expulsion
Updated 17 May 2021

Jordan MPs launch diplomatic assault on Israel with call for envoy’s expulsion

Jordan MPs launch diplomatic assault on Israel with call for envoy’s expulsion
  • Ninety MPs out of Jordan’s 130-strong lower house of parliament signed a memorandum requesting the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador
  • Move comes as a sign of protest and rejection of Israel’s “brutal and barbaric” attacks on Al-Aqsa Mosque and Gaza

AMMAN: Jordanian MPs on Monday called for Israel’s ambassador in Amman to be expelled in response to “Israel’s crimes against humanity.”

Almost all lawmakers who took the podium during Monday’s special session on the violence in Gaza and the occupied West Bank urged the government to expel the envoy following Israel’s actions in Jerusalem and subsequent bombing campaign.

Jordan is the custodian of the Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem’s Old City.

Ninety MPs out of Jordan’s 130-strong lower house of parliament signed a memorandum requesting the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador in Amman as a sign of protest and rejection of Israel’s “brutal and barbaric” attacks on Al-Aqsa Mosque and Gaza.

The petition, a copy of which was seen by Arab News, calls on the government to adopt a bold stance toward cutting diplomatic ties with the “Zionist entity” by expelling the Israeli envoy and recalling Jordan’s ambassador in Tel Aviv.

Last week, the Jordanian government said it had summoned the Israeli charge d’affaires in Amman to object to the “Israeli assaults against Al-Aqsa Mosque worshippers and East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.”

Other MPs demanded the cancelation of all agreements with Israel, including the 1994 Jordan-Israel peace treaty and the gas deal between the two countries.

In 2016, Jordan’s National Electric Power Company signed a 15-year agreement with Noble Energy, a Houston-based company that holds the largest share in the Israeli Leviathan gas field, to buy $10 billion of natural gas.

The government at the time said it would import 250-300 million cubic feet of natural gas per day from Noble Energy, adding the deal would save the kingdom around $990 million. Under the agreement, Jordan will receive 3 billion cubic meters of gas per year.

Other deputies, mostly of Islamist leaning, hailed Hamas’ “acts of resistance,” and called for action against Israel in the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Prime Minister Bisher Al-Khasawneh, who attended the session, said that Jordan has its own legal and diplomatic toolbox to deal with the Israeli attacks on Gaza, Jerusalem and the West Bank, adding: “All options are on the table.”

Al-Khasawneh said that some of these diplomatic options will be used to protect Palestinians’ rights and others to highlight Israel’s violations.

The prime minister accused Israel of committing crimes against humanity, and said that Jordan’s unwavering position on the long-running conflict is rooted in the three “no’s” declared by King Abdullah: No to giving up Jerusalem, no to dropping the right of return for Palestinians, and no to the resettlement of Palestinians in Jordan.

With some MPs threatening the government with a no-confidence motion if it fails to expel the ambassador, Al-Khasawneh said that the “government will examine all options and will take the right action that serves the national interests once it receives the parliamentary petition.”

Sheikh Jarrah

A group of MPs also requested that a parliamentary delegation visit Sheikh Jarrah to deliver a message to the world’s parliaments on what they termed the “injustice exercised against the Palestinians” in the East Jerusalem neighborhood.

In a memorandum submitted for immediate action, 100 MPs demanded that a parliamentary delegation be formed to visit Sheikh Jarrah with the aim of supporting the Palestinian presence in Jerusalem and reaffirming Jordanian custodianship of the Old City’s holy shrines.

Al-Khasawneh said that the government has provided the Palestinian Authority with documents on Sheikh Jarrah to help the Ramallah-based government address Israeli “demographic change” practices in Jerusalem.

During a visit to Ramallah on April 22, Jordanian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi submitted documents to PA President Mahmoud Abbas proving Palestinian ownership of Sheikh Jarrah.

Jordan administered the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, until the June 1967 Arab-Israeli war, but remains custodian of the holy sites in Jerusalem.

Safadi’s trip to the occupied West Bank came after families were reportedly given court orders to leave their homes in the predominantly Palestinian neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah by May 5 or face eviction.

“We have provided all the documents that we have that can help the Palestinian residents to preserve their full rights. Jerusalem is a red line for Jordan, the king and our people, as it is a red line for the state of Palestine. We will confront any effort to undermine the existing historical and legal status of the Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem,” Safadi was quoted as saying following his meeting with Abbas.

In response to some deputies who claimed that the government has failed to submit all registration documents to the Palestinians, Safadi said: “This is untrue. The government has checked every relevant paper in the (national) archives and has submitted all documents to the Palestinian people and government, and has also attested all the documents handed to the Sheikh Jarrah’s residents proving their ownership of their neighborhood.”

At a meeting with MPs on Sunday, King Abdullah said that “no country is more supportive of the Palestinians than Jordan,” adding that intensive talks were underway with active international stakeholders to stop the Israeli escalation, and safeguard Palestinian lives and property.


Houthi leader kills cardiologist, his brother for opposing mosque sermon

Houthi leader kills cardiologist, his brother for opposing mosque sermon
A fighter loyal to Yemen's government mans a position near the frontline facing Iran-backed Houthi rebels in the country's northeastern province of Marib. (AFP file photo)
Updated 18 May 2021

Houthi leader kills cardiologist, his brother for opposing mosque sermon

Houthi leader kills cardiologist, his brother for opposing mosque sermon
  • Civilians abducted for removing pictures of Soleimani, Nasrallah from streets, walls of homes

AL-MUKALLA: A Houthi religious leader shot dead a cardiologist and his brother and wounded several others for denouncing his sermons at a mosque in the southern Yemeni province of Taiz, residents and officials reported on Monday.

Abdul Basit Al-Baher, a Yemeni army spokesman in Taiz city, told Arab News that Azit Al-Azi Abdul Nour opened fire at a gathering in Maqbanah district when a number of people took exception to his radical preaching.

Ahmed Al-Shameri, a cardiologist, and his brother Hamoud were killed in the shooting and others, including a child, were injured.

“The Houthi preacher angered locals after insulting the prophet’s companions and wives,” Al-Baher said.

He added that locals disconnected electricity from the small mosque where the Houthi was giving his address when he refused to stop speaking and members of the Iran-backed militant group sneaked him out of the building as tensions mounted and residents demanded justice.

Separately, an international rights group said on Monday that Houthis had abducted a group of residents from a small village in Yemen’s Al-Mahwit province for allegedly tearing down and removing images bearing slogans of Iranian and Hezbollah leaders.

Abdurrahman Barman, a Yemeni human rights advocate and director of the American Center for Justice (ACJ), told Arab News that heavily armed Houthis in three military vehicles descended on Al-Oura village in Shibam Kawkaban district and abducted 42 people, including children.

Those seized were accused of taking down pictures of the late Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani, and Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah from streets and walls of their homes.

The Houthis released the villagers three days later after a tribal mediation in which it was agreed they would attend a local police station when the Eid break was over.

Following interviews with relatives of the captured villagers, the ACJ said that the abductees had been subjected to psychological and physical torture in a bid to force confessions out of them.

“Our children and women are living in great fear at that moment, and some women have fallen ill from the terrible tragedy as the Houthi forces stormed houses and pointed their weapons at people,” one relative reportedly told the organization.

FASTFACT

Yemen’s information minister, Moammar Al- Eryani, on Monday strongly condemned a Houthi drone strike on Sunday on a local market in Al-Durihimi district, south of Hodeidah province, that killed a civilian and wounded several others.

Meanwhile, Yemen’s information minister, Moammar Al- Eryani, on Monday strongly condemned a Houthi drone strike on Sunday on a local market in Al-Durihimi district, south of Hodeidah province, that killed a civilian and wounded several others.

He called on the UN mission responsible for monitoring the implementation of the Stockholm Agreement in Hodeidah to condemn the shelling of civilian targets which was in breach of the terms of the deal.

In a tweet, Al-Eryani said: “This heinous terrorist crime is a continuation of the crimes and violations committed by the Houthi militia against citizens in liberated areas of Hodeidah, shelling with artillery, mortars, drones, planting mines, IEDs (improvised explosive devices) on public roads, whose victims are civilians, including children and women.”

Without naming the Houthis, Gen. Abhijit Guha, head of the UN mission in Hodeidah, condemned the drone strike.

Gen. Guha urged warring factions on Monday to adhere to their pledges to avoid targeting civilians during military operations.

“I urge the parties to respect the sanctity of human life and protect civilians as per their obligations and undertake steps that will move further toward peace in the governorate and across Yemen,” he said in a statement seen by Arab News.