Arab coalition warplanes hit Houthi military sites in southern Yemen

The city of Taiz has been the scene of the fiercest battles between the Yemeni government troops and the Houthis since early 2015. (Reuters/File Photo)
The city of Taiz has been the scene of the fiercest battles between the Yemeni government troops and the Houthis since early 2015. (Reuters/File Photo)
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Updated 09 September 2021

Arab coalition warplanes hit Houthi military sites in southern Yemen

The city of Taiz has been the scene of the fiercest battles between the Yemeni government troops and the Houthis since early 2015. (Reuters/File Photo)
  • Videos on social media show balls of fire and smoke billowing from the targeted locations in Taiz
  • The city of Taiz has been the scene of the fiercest battles between the Yemeni government troops and the Houthis since early 2015

AL-MUKALLA: Arab coalition warplanes on Wednesday targeted several military locations belonging to the Iran-backed Houthis in the southern Yemeni city of Taiz, residents and government officials said.

Large explosions rocked the densely populated city of Taiz from 1 a.m. to 4 a.m. on Wednesday after missiles fired by the coalition’s warplanes struck the city’s airport, an air defense military base, missile and ammunition silos and other locations controlled by the Houthis on the eastern edges of the city.

Videos on social media show balls of fire and smoke billowing from the targeted locations.

“Based on initial intelligence reports from the ground, the precise airstrikes destroyed large ammunition and missile stores, artillery emplacements, rocket launchers and a command and control room for the Houthis,” Col. Abdul Basit Al-Baher, a Yemen army officer in Taiz, told Arab News by telephone.

He added that the airstrikes on Houthi-controlled military locations in Taiz were the largest in years.

The infrequent airstrikes by the coalition’s warplanes in Taiz over the past couple of years have allowed the Houthis to turn areas under their control in Taiz into launch pads for ballistic missiles and explosive-laden drones that targeted Saudi Arabia and government-controlled areas in Yemen, Al-Baher said.

In March 2021, the UN experts found out that some of the missiles that targeted Aden airport on Dec. 30, 2020, shortly after the formation of the new government, were fired by the Houthis from Taiz airport, one of the targets of Wednesday’s airstrikes.

Officials believe that explosive–rigged drones and missiles that killed dozens of Yemeni soldiers at Al-Anad base in Lahj last month were also fired from Houthi-controlled military sites in Taiz.

Al-Baher said the latest round of air raids would impede the Houthis’ ability to launch more deadly strikes from Taiz.

The city of Taiz has been the scene of the fiercest battles between the Yemeni government troops and the Houthis since early 2015.

From their locations on the edges of the city, the Houthis have laid a siege to the city and shelled the centre to weaken the government forces defending the city.

Dozens of combatants have been killed in fierce clashes on several fronts outside the central city of Marib, local military officials said on Wednesday.

Fighting broke out in Al-Mashjah, Al-Kasara, Serwah and Rahabah after the Houthis attacked government troops in another desperate attempt to break through the defenses.

Rashad Al-Mekhlafi, a military official at Yemen’s Armed Forces Guidance Department, said that battles are becoming more aggressive as the Houthis have intensified attacks on government forces despite suffering heavy losses.

He said that the Yemeni army troops and allied tribesmen, backed by the coalition’s air support, managed to repulse Houthi attacks.

“The Houthis are determined to win the battle for Marib before the new UN envoy to Yemen puts forward his plan for ending the war,” Al-Mekhlafi said.

The Houthis, he said, have dispatched their elite military figures, who have been trained by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards during the past two decades, to Marib to make a military breakthrough that could enable them to seize control of the city, the last government bastion in the north.

The UN Yemen envoy Hans Grundberg, who took charge on Sunday, began meeting diplomats and officials ahead of his first briefing to the UN Security Council on Friday.

“We discussed opportunities to move the Yemeni #peace process forward and the need for a more inclusive approach. Norway stands ready to support the new special envoy,” Mona Juul, Norway’s ambassador and permanent representative at the UN, said on Twitter on Wednesday after meeting the new envoy.


Arab coalition says over 100 Houthis killed in strikes on Juba and Al-Kasarah

Arab coalition says over 100 Houthis killed in strikes on Juba and Al-Kasarah
Updated 27 October 2021

Arab coalition says over 100 Houthis killed in strikes on Juba and Al-Kasarah

Arab coalition says over 100 Houthis killed in strikes on Juba and Al-Kasarah
  • 13 military vehicles had also been destroyed in the 26 strikes carried out by the coalition on Juba and Al-Kasarah
  • The coalition has reported heavy strikes around Marib in recent weeks

RIYADH: The Arab coalition said on Wednesday that more than 105 Houthis were killed during air strikes on two districts near the central Yemeni city of Marib.

The coalition added that 13 military vehicles had also been destroyed in the 26 strikes carried out on Juba and Al-Kasarah during the last 24 hours.

Juba is some 50 km south of Marib, whilst Al-Kasarah is 30 km northwest of the city.

The coalition has reported heavy strikes around Marib in recent weeks.


Israel advances plans for more than 3,000 settler homes

Israel advances plans for more than 3,000 settler homes
Updated 27 October 2021

Israel advances plans for more than 3,000 settler homes

Israel advances plans for more than 3,000 settler homes
  • The Civil Administration’s high planning committee gave the final green light to 1,800 homes and initial approval for another 1,344
  • About 475,000 Israeli Jews live in settlements in the West Bank, which are considered illegal under international law

JERUSALEM: Israel advanced plans for building more than 3,000 settler homes in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday, a military spokesman said, a day after the US forcefully criticized such construction.
The Civil Administration’s high planning committee gave the final green light to 1,800 homes and initial approval for another 1,344, a spokesman for the military body that oversees civilian matters in the Palestinian territories told AFP.
The approvals came a day after the United States criticized Israel for its policy of building settlements, with President Joe Biden’s administration saying it “strongly” opposed new construction on the West Bank.
His administration’s position on the matter stands in stark contrast to that of his predecessor Donald Trump, whose presidency saw the US offer a green light to Israel’s activity on occupied Palestinian land.
The homes approved on Wednesday were spread across the West Bank, from the suburbs of Jerusalem to new neighborhoods of settlements deep inside the territory.
Israel’s housing ministry had separately on Sunday published tenders to build 1,355 new homes in the West Bank.
About 475,000 Israeli Jews live in settlements in the West Bank, which are considered illegal under international law, on land Palestinians claim as part of their future state.
Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank and annexed east Jerusalem has continued under every Israeli government since 1967.


World Bank suspends aid to Sudan after military coup

World Bank suspends aid to Sudan after military coup
Updated 27 October 2021

World Bank suspends aid to Sudan after military coup

World Bank suspends aid to Sudan after military coup
  • It is the latest blow to the impoverished African nation
  • The military on Monday seized Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and briefly detained him in a coup

WASHINGTON: The World Bank said Wednesday it has suspended aid to Sudan following the military takeover that deposed the prime minister.
“I am greatly concerned by recent events in Sudan, and I fear the dramatic impact this can have on the country’s social and economic recovery and development,” World Bank President David Malpass said in a statement.
It was the latest blow to the impoverished African nation that had just won its way back into good standing with major Washington-based development lenders after years in the wilderness.
The military on Monday seized Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and briefly detained him in the coup that came just over two years into a precarious power-sharing arrangement between the military and civilians after the army ousted longtime autocrat Omar Al-Bashir in April 2019.
The World Bank “paused disbursements in all of its operations in Sudan on Monday and it has stopped processing any new operations as we closely monitor and assess the situation,” Malpass said.
The United States also suspended aid to the country.
“We hope that peace and the integrity of the transition process will be restored, so that Sudan can restart its path of economic development and can take its rightful place in the international financial community,” Malpass said.
Sudan had been emerging from decades of stringent US sanctions after Washington removed the country from its state sponsor of terrorism blacklist in December 2020, eliminating a major hurdle to much-needed aid and financial investment.
The World Bank and IMF in June granted Sudan debt relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative, cutting the nation’s debt in half to about $28 billion, and the institutions have offered additional help if economic reforms continue.


UAE coronavirus cases below 100 for seventh day

UAE coronavirus cases below 100 for seventh day
Updated 27 October 2021

UAE coronavirus cases below 100 for seventh day

UAE coronavirus cases below 100 for seventh day
  • The Ministry of Health said the country conducted 295,380 tests in the past 24 hours
  • The country’s total caseload of recorded infections since the pandemic started now stands at 739,566

DUBAI: Daily coronavirus cases in the UAE were below 100 for the seventh straight day, with 95 new COVID-19 infections reported by health authorities.
The Ministry of Health said the country conducted 295,380 tests in the past 24 hours, state news agency WAM reported. It further reported one death and 136 recoveries.
The country’s total caseload of recorded infections since the pandemic started now stands at 739,566, with 2,135 deaths and 733,640 recoveries.
Coronavirus cases in the UAE have been falling in recent weeks with a total number of COVID-19 vaccination doses reaching 20,999,143.


Turkish motion opens door to new Syria operation

Turkish motion opens door to new Syria operation
Updated 27 October 2021

Turkish motion opens door to new Syria operation

Turkish motion opens door to new Syria operation
  • The motion justified a cross-border operation if Turkey’s national security is put under threat
  • Turkey has warned of growing threats from the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units, east of the Euphrates River, northern Syria

ANKARA: Turkish Parliament has ratified a motion to extend troop deployment for anti-terror operations in Iraq and Syria for another two years, raising questions over whether another cross-border operation looms on the horizon.

The move coincided with the Turkish military’s deployment of massive convoys and reinforcements to the border with Syria.

Barring the main opposition Republican Peoples’ Party and pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party, the governing Justice and Development Party, Nationalist Movement Party and the opposition Good Party backed the motion that emphasized the risks and rising threats posed by ongoing conflicts along the Turkey-Syria border.

The motion also stressed that Turkey places “great importance on the protection of Iraq’s territorial integrity, national unity and stability,” although “the continued existence of outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party and Daesh in Iraq ... poses a direct threat to regional peace, stability and the security of Turkey.”

Turkey regularly targets PKK hideouts in the Qandil stronghold of northern Iraq, but the country’s government has condemned the operations, describing them as a “violation of Iraqi sovereignty.”

Regarding the situation in the rebel-held province of Idlib, the motion noted that “the peace and stability established via the Astana process continues to be under threat."

The motion justified a cross-border operation if Turkey’s national security is put under threat.

Since 2016, Turkey has launched three cross-border operations into northern Syria — Euphrates Shield in 2016, Olive Branch in 2018 and Peace Spring in 2019. Two were directed against Kurdish forces. The safe zone that covers Tel Abyad, Jarablus and Afrin is currently under Turkish control.

Recently, Turkey has warned of growing threats from the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units in the east of Euphrates River in northern Syria, with artillery attacks targeting Turkish border towns and killing police officers. Turkish officials have begun voicing warnings about possible military action in the region.

Based on a senior source within the Syrian National Army, Arab News learned that the Turkish side advised forces to ready troops for a potential operation, but did not give details about the timing or target of the strategy.

Navvar Saban, a conflict analyst and expert at Omran Center for Strategic Studies, and a non-resident researcher at ORSAM in Ankara, said that Turkey is trying to put pressure on the Russian side by making preparations for a potential cross-border operation.

However, Saban added that Ankara will likely “wait until the regional circumstances become ripe” before engaging in military action.

“I don’t expect any immediate military operation. The Turkish side will only increase their artillery fire on the Syrian Democratic Forces positions in the north and will use the military operation as a bargaining chip against Moscow in this area,” he told Arab News.

“Turkey also ordered several army commanders to send more troops to Ras Al-Ain in northern Syria. I think that Turkey will take advantage of its proxy forces on the ground and gain more time in different active battlefronts before pushing the Russians to the negotiation table on terms that are acceptable for all,” Saban said.

Russia has not yet taken a clear position on a potential Turkish offensive, and as a security guarantor, is opting for a wait-and-watch policy to see how far Ankara is testing its boundaries in Syria within the limits of the bilateral commitments under the Astana process.

Separately, the US Senate confirmed on Monday Jeff Flake as the next US ambassador to Turkey. Ankara has long objected to the US support for the YPG, the main local partner of the US in its fight against Daesh.

Levent Kemal, a Middle East political commentator, said that Russia remains wary of giving a green light to Turkey for the launch of its next offensive in Tal Rifaat and Tal Temr.

Tal Rifaat, located in northwestern Syria, has been under the control of the YPG since 2016, and it is mostly populated by Kurds who fled Afrin following the Turkish operation in 2018. Ankara blamed the YPG for using Tal Rifaat as a “launchpad” to stage attacks.

“The US and Turkish presidents are set to meet this week. It is unlikely that Turkey launches an operation before the much-awaited meeting between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his US counterpart, Joe Biden. It would be too risky to anger both Russia and the US on the same battleground,” Kemal told Arab News.

There are reportedly negotiations between Turkish and Russian authorities over an exchange of control in Tal Rifaat and Idlib, where Ankara-backed rebels have been losing ground for several months.

If Turkey and Russia agree on the swap, it could also bring Erdogan strong support from nationalist constituencies in Turkey through the seizure of new strategic territory from Kurdish forces. However, experts said that Turkey would not totally abandon its commitments in Idlib just for control of Tal Rifaat, and would ask for more territories in return.