RIYADH: Efforts to end Yemen’s conflict received a setback on Friday after the Iran-backed Houthis rejected the US peace proposal.
Houthi spokesman Mohamed Abdelsalam told Almasirah TV that the American proposal for a nationwide cease-fire “has nothing in it and represents the Saudi and the UN vision.”
The American proposal doesn’t include ceasing fire or breaking the siege, and it would lead to a resumption of a blockade, the spokesman added.
Earlier, the US Special Envoy for Yemen Tim Lenderking said the Iran-backed militia is giving priority to a military campaign to take Marib over “suspending the war and moving relief to the Yemeni people.”
“Tragically, and somewhat confusingly for me, it appears that the Houthis are prioritizing a military campaign” in Marib, Lenderking told an online forum.
Lenderking said Saudi Arabia's leadership is providing “full support” to the US effort to end the war in Yemen.
He urged the Houthis to respond to a “sound plan” for a nationwide ceasefire in Yemen that has been put before them.
Japan’s Foreign Minister Motegi Toshimitsu criticized the Houthis’ cross-border attacks on Saudi Arabia and Aramco oil facilities, and called on Yemen to stop the conflict “Japan is concerned about the conflict in Yemen,” Motegi said in reply to a question by Arab News Japan at a press conference.
“This has been continuing for a long time and is putting many civilians in a difficult humanitarian situation. Japan strongly condemns the continuous cross-border attacks by the Houthis on Saudi Arabia,” he added.
The Arab coalition destroyed a hostile Houthi air defense system on Yemen's Marib front on Friday, according to Al-Ekhbariya.
The destruction of the Houthi system included all its components and its foreign operators were also killed, according to the Arab coalition.
“We support operations carried out by the Yemeni army and tribes in Marib to advance and protect civilians,” the coalition said.
On Sunday, the coalition shot down a drone targeting an oil tank yard in Ras Tanura Port and a missile heading for an Aramco residential area in Dhahran.
The Saudi cabinet said the two attacks were blatant violations of international law and norms.
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan reiterated the Kingdom’s support for a political solution in Yemen.
The attacks “represent a threat to the stability of global energy supplies, affecting the entire global economy and endangering the lives of Saudi workers in Aramco and thousands more from 80 different nationalities, including Americans,” said Princess Reema bint Bandar, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the US.
On Thursday, the US, along with France, Germany, Italy and the UK issued a strongly worded statement saying the Houthis actions were threatening peace efforts and causing further humanitarian suffering.
Yemeni government forces on Friday announced seizing control of several locations in the northern province of Hajja after a fresh assault against the Houthis.
The Defense Ministry said that troops had liberated a large swathe of land in Abes district after fighting with the militia.
In Taiz, troops consolidated their gains in Al-Kadaha, west of Taiz, after opening a new lifeline road to the besieged city.
Local army commanders said the main objective of current military operations in Taiz and Hajja was relieving Houthi military pressure on troops in the central city of Marib.
Meanwhile, foreign envoys and rights groups have strongly condemned a fire at a Houthi-controlled migrant center and demanded that the rebels give investigators access to the site and the wounded.
The UK’s Ambassador to Yemen, Michael Aron, on Friday condemned the incident and called for an immediate and objective probe and unhindered access to the injured migrants.
Anger has grown in Yemen and around the world after Sunday’s blaze shone a spotlight on the Iran-backed militia’s “inhumane” treatment of refugees.
Grim videos and images of those who perished have appeared on Twitter, with calls condemning the Houthi’s silence on the blaze.
Mwatana, a leading Yemeni human rights organization, also blamed the Houthis for the fire and accused them of arbitrarily detaining survivors and relatives of the victims in order to stop them from talking about the incident.
A senior figure in Sanaa’s Eritrean migrant community told AP at least 44 migrants were killed and that the death toll could be much higher.