Yemen troops battle new Houthi attacks near Marib

A Yemeni government fighter fires a vehicle-mounted weapon at a frontline position during fighting against Houthi fighters in Marib. (Reuters/File Photo)
A Yemeni government fighter fires a vehicle-mounted weapon at a frontline position during fighting against Houthi fighters in Marib. (Reuters/File Photo)
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Updated 09 April 2022

Yemen troops battle new Houthi attacks near Marib

A Yemeni government fighter fires a vehicle-mounted weapon at a frontline position during fighting against Houthi fighters in Marib. (Reuters/File Photo)
  • Attack described as biggest since April 2, the first day of two-month truce brokered by the UN
  • The UN urges warring parties to exercise ‘restraint’ after they traded accusations of ceasefire violations

AL-MUKALLA: Fierce fighting broke out on Friday on the outskirts of Yemen’s central city of Marib after the Iran-backed Houthis mounted a new attack on government forces defending the strategic location.

The Yemeni Defense Ministry said that army troops and allied tribesmen were fending off a major Houthi assault at flashpoint sites in Juba district, south of Marib.

The attack has been described as the biggest since April 2, the first day of a two-month truce brokered by the UN.

The UN meanwhile urged Yemen’s warring parties to exercise “restraint” after they traded accusations of violations of the cease-fire.

“I am following very closely the latest developments in #Marib and urge all parties to show restraint and their continued commitment to the truce as promised to Yemenis,” tweeted Hans Grundberg, the UN special envoy for Yemen.

Yemen’s government has accused the Houthis of exploiting the ceasefire and absence of Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen warplanes by mobilizing new forces and military equipment including tanks, artillery, and BMP infantry fighting vehicles.

The army said that the Houthis had committed at least 100 violations of the truce in contested areas in Hodeidah, Jouf, Taiz, Saada, Hajjah, and Marib. The Houthis accused the Yemeni government of attacking their forces in Marib on Friday.

Energy-rich Marib has seen the bloodiest and most aggressive fighting in the war since earlier last year when the Houthis resumed an offensive to control the city.

Thousands of combatants and civilians have been killed outside the city and the group rejected calls to end its attacks that have exacerbated the humanitarian crisis in the country.

Under the terms of the longest truce since the beginning of the conflict, warring factions in Yemen were to halt hostilities on all fronts in addition to stopping cross-border attacks on Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Sanaa airport would open for two flights to Egypt and Jordan each week, and 18 fuel ships would be allowed to enter the western port of Hodeidah.

Yemen’s former President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi on Thursday transferred his powers to a presidential council of eight members to run the country and engage in peace talks with the Houthis.

Houthi spokesman, Mohammed Abdul-Salam, on Thursday rejected the formation of the presidential council and the outcomes of Yemeni-Yemeni consultations in Riyadh, claiming the council was meant to reorganize the ranks of their opponents before pushing them into the battlefields to fight them.

 – with AFP


Lebanon expects US mediator offer for maritime border with Israel within days

Lebanon expects US mediator offer for maritime border with Israel within days
Updated 21 sec ago

Lebanon expects US mediator offer for maritime border with Israel within days

Lebanon expects US mediator offer for maritime border with Israel within days

DUBAI: Lebanon expects a written offer from US mediator Amos Hochstein concerning the demarcation of a maritime border with Israel by the end of the week, Lebanon’s presidency tweeted on Monday.
Lebanon’s deputy speaker of parliament Elias Bou Saab met with Hochstein last week during a visit to New York and briefed President Michel Aoun on the outcome, the presidency added.
Hochstein has been shuttling between Lebanon and Israel — enemy states with a history of conflict — in a bid to forge a compromise over the maritime boundary that would allow both to explore for offshore energy reserves.
A deal would defuse one potential source of conflict between Israel and the heavily armed, Iran-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah, which has warned against any Israeli exploration and extraction in the disputed waters.


Lebanese banks reopen partially after weeklong closure

Lebanese banks reopen partially after weeklong closure
Updated 3 min 20 sec ago

Lebanese banks reopen partially after weeklong closure

Lebanese banks reopen partially after weeklong closure
BEIRUT: Banks in crisis-hit Lebanon partially reopened Monday following a weeklong closure amid a wave of heists in which assailants stormed at least seven bank branches earlier this month, demanding to withdraw their trapped savings.
The Association of Banks in Lebanon said last Monday it was going on strike amid bank holdups by depositors and activists — a sign of growing chaos in the tiny Mideast nation.
Lebanon’s cash-strapped banks had last closed for a prolonged period back in October 2019, for two weeks, during mass anti-government protests triggered by the crisis. That year, the banks imposed strict limits on cash withdrawals, tying up the savings of millions of people.
The country’s economy has since spiraled, with about three-quarters of the population plunged into poverty. The Lebanese pound has lost over 90 percent of its value against the dollar.
The frustrations boiled over this month, with angry and desperate depositors — including one armed with a hunting rifle — started holding up the banks. One of them, Sali Hafez, broke into a Beirut bank branch with a fake pistol and retrieved some $13,000 in her savings to cover her sister’s cancer treatment.
However, only a handful of bank branches opened Monday — accepting only customers with prior appointments for corporate transactions. The partial reopening was to continue indefinitely, until banks can secure the safety of their employees.
Crowds of anxious Lebanese gathered around ATM machines.
“I’ve been here for three hours, and they won’t let me in or schedule an appoint,” Fadi Al-Osta told The Associated Press outside a bank branch in Beirut. “The security guards can let us in one at a time and check for weapons. Isn’t that their job?”
George Al-Hajj, president of Lebanon’s Federation of Bank Employees Syndicates, said branches have downsized, to have a larger number of security guards per branch.
“Our goal isn’t to harm anyone, but we want to go to work feeling safe and secure,” Al-Hajj said. “We’re also human beings.”
Tensions were simmering in the southern city of Sidon, where State Security forces armed with assault rifles stood outside some bank branches. Some police officers and army soldiers, whose salaries have lost over 90 percent of their value, unsuccessfully tried to break into a bank branch to collect small cash bonus recently granted by the government.
Lebanon’s talks with the International Monetary Fund on a bailout have progressed sluggishly, with authorities failing to implement critical reforms, including restructuring the banking sector and lifting banking secrecy laws. Last week, a visiting IMF delegation criticized the government’s slowness to implement desperately-needed financial reforms.

Iran says US trying to violate sovereignty over unrest, warns of response

Iran says US trying to violate sovereignty over unrest, warns of response
Updated 13 min 37 sec ago

Iran says US trying to violate sovereignty over unrest, warns of response

Iran says US trying to violate sovereignty over unrest, warns of response
  • Iran has said the United States was supporting rioters and seeking to destablize the Islamic Republic

DUBAI: US attempts to violate Iran’s sovereignty over the issue of protests triggered by the death of a woman in police custody will not go unanswered, the foreign ministry said on Monday.
Iran has been rocked by nationwide demonstrations sparked by the death of 22-year-old Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini, after she was detained by morality police enforcing the Islamic Republic’s strict restrictions on women’s dress.
The case has drawn international condemnation. Iran has said the United States was supporting rioters and seeking to destablize the Islamic Republic.
“Washington is always trying to weaken Iran’s stability and security although it has been unsuccessful,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani told Nour news, which is affiliated with a top security body, in a statement.


Syria cholera death toll rises to 29 — health ministry

Syria cholera death toll rises to 29 — health ministry
Updated 47 min 13 sec ago

Syria cholera death toll rises to 29 — health ministry

Syria cholera death toll rises to 29 — health ministry
  • The highly contagious disease has also spread to the country’s Kurdish-held and opposition areas in north and northwestern Syria

AMMAN: A cholera outbreak in several regions of Syria has killed 29 people, the Syrian health ministry said on Monday in what the UN has called the worst outbreak in the war-torn country for years.
Rapid assessment testing confirmed 338 cases since the outbreak was first recorded last month, with the bulk of deaths and cases in the northern Aleppo province, the ministry said in a statement.
It said 230 cases were in Aleppo province where 25 people were confirmed dead. The rest were spread across the country.
The United Nations this month said the outbreak was believed be linked to irrigation of crops using contaminated water and people drinking unsafe water from the Euphrates river which bisects Syria from the north to the east.
The highly contagious disease has also spread to the country’s Kurdish-held and opposition areas in north and northwestern Syria where millions have been displaced by the decade-old conflict, medical officials said.
Suspected cholera cases have risen to 2,092 in the northeast of Syria since the outbreak was announced this month, said the US-based International Rescue Committee (IRC) which operates in the northern region.
It said there were fears about significant under-reporting of cases.
The widespread destruction of national water infrastructure after more than a decade of war means much of the Syrian population is reliant on unsafe water sources.
Prior to the recent cholera outbreak, the water crisis had caused an increase in diseases such as diarrhea, malnutrition and skin conditions in the region, according to the World Health Organization.


Egypt to release new batch of 39 pretrial detainees: Presidential Pardon Committee  

Egypt to release new batch of 39 pretrial detainees: Presidential Pardon Committee  
Updated 26 September 2022

Egypt to release new batch of 39 pretrial detainees: Presidential Pardon Committee  

Egypt to release new batch of 39 pretrial detainees: Presidential Pardon Committee  
  • MP Tarek El-Khouly said the move was in cooperation with state authorities and the country’s Public Prosecution

DUBAI: Egypt has ordered the release of 39 pretrial detainees on Monday. 
MP Tarek El-Khouly, a member of the Presidential Pardon Committee, said the move was in cooperation with state authorities and the country’s Public Prosecution. 
Egypt’s Public Prosecution has ordered the release of hundreds of pretrial detainees in groups since May. 
This comes as the government and various political forces prepare for extensive national political dialogue that will focus on political, economic, and social issues. 
Since its inception in 2016, the committee has received the names of prisoners eligible for presidential pardon consideration from different parties and political forces, including the National Council for Human Rights (NCHR), the parliament’s Human Rights Committee, as well as directly through its own official website.