Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com & Deutsche Welle & NewsOK – 2015-07-12 19:59:23
Despite Ceasefire, Saudi Airstrikes
Continue to Pound Yemen
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
SANAA, Yemen (July 10, 2015) — Fighting picked up early Friday in Yemen, with the hours leading up to the ceasefire, which began at 23:59 local time, seeing several clashes inside several major cities, including Taiz. Then the ceasefire began, and almost immediately thereafter, Saudi warplanes were attacking Taiz.
Reports are that Saudi airstrikes against Taiz began less than an hour after the ceasefire began, with three different strikes reported, hitting Houthi targets, including a camp and a military convoy.
Pro-Saudi fighters had claimed the Houthis were violating the ceasefire by continuing to advance into the city once it began, and suggested that was the pretext for the Saudi strike. Saudi officials were spurning the truce before it even began, insisting they didnâ€™t trust the Houthis to honor it.
The Houthis, for their part, insisted that they were holding their ground in Taiz against an offensive by pro-Saudi forces, and the airstrikes compounded on that truce violation. The UN is urging both sides to honor the ceasefire, and despite these incidents, strikes appear to have halted across most of the country.
Fighting Intensifies in Yemen
Ahead of Five-day Truce
SANAA (July 10, 2015) — In Yemen, airstrikes against Houthi rebels have been stepped up, hours before a ceasfire is due to begin. Saudi Arabia says the UN-brokered humanitarian pause will be “useless” because rebels won’t abide by it.
Saudi warplanes launched fresh air raids in central and eastern Yemen on Friday in an apparent bid to gain the edge ahead of a five-day ceasefire, which was due to come into effect at midnight.
A local security official said Houthi rebels amassed fighters on the outskirts of the strategic central city of Taiz, shelling several residential areas although there were no casualties.
The United Nations has brokered the truce to run until July 17, the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The pause in the fighting will allow aid to reach millions of Yememis on the brink of famine. It includes unhindered access to all parts of the country, including sea and airports.
Yemen has descended into chaos in recent months amid fighting between forces loyal to exiled President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and Houthi rebels, backed by Iran. A Saudi-led coalition intervened in March, launching airstrikes on Houthi targets.
Friday’s ceasefire comes after a similar deal in May was repeatedly violated and much of the aid never reached those who needed it most.
Saudi Arabia Doubtful of Cease-fire
Fears are growing that the new pact will also be ignored. A Saudi official told the AFP news agency that the five-day hiatus would be “useless,” blaming a lack of “any evidence of commitment from the other party.”
The cease-fire is further complicated in that Houthi rebels are not in full control of all of their allied forces.
But the UN says it has received assurances from Hadi and the Houthi rebels that they will respect the pause.
Aid agencies have described the latest truce as the “final hope” to reach areas of aid. The World Food Programme said two ships carrying food and fuel were waiting to dock off the coast of Aden.
The UN confirmed it would scale up operations during the cease-fire, aiming to reach around 13 million people who face food shortages. A desperate need for medicine and vaccinations in several areas has also been reported.
Charities plan to stockpile supplies throughout the country, including food for over a million people for a month, as a long-term solution remains a distant possibility.
More than 3,200 people have been killed since Saudi Arabia intervened, almost half of them civilians.
Riyadh has vowed that it won’t stop airstrikes until Hadi – who is currently exiled in Saudi – has been reinstated.
AQAP Calls for Attacks on US
Separately on Friday, the new leader of al-Qaeda in the Peninsula (AQAP) called for attacks on the United States, according to a website representing the group.
Qassim al-Raymi took over following the death of Nasser Al Wuhayshi, who was killed in a US drone attack in Yemen’s Hadhramaut region.
AQAP, which is Yemen’s branch of the terrorism network, is also in the middle of a territorial grab for large parts of the country and is seen by US intelligence as the most lethal franchise of the terrorist organization.
Airstrikes Pierce New Yemen Truce
Following Ground Fighting
NewsOK& Associated Press
SANAA, Yemen (July 10, 2015) — A new truce in Yemen was pierced within an hour as Saudi-led airstrikes hit targets in the capital Sanaa and the southwestern city of Taiz following reports of ground movement and fighting, security officials said.
The UN-declared truce that began after midnight Friday is meant to last through the end of the holy month of Ramadan and allow in desperately needed humanitarian aid for millions of people.
Houthi rebel media reported at least one airstrike in the east of the capital of Sanaa, targeting a military camp used by the rebels. It was not clear what immediately prompted the airstrike.
Security officials said three airstrikes came after Shiite rebels and their allied forces clashed with rivals who have held pockets of resistance against the rebels’ control of Taiz.
Witnesses also reported the airstrikes. One airstrike targeted a military camp used by forces loyal to the rebels, while another hit a rebel convoy, the officials said.
Both sides exchanged blame for violating the truce. Rebel officials said their rivals were using the truce to advance in Taiz. Fighters accused the rebels of trying to push them from the territories they hold.
All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to report to the media amid a tense truce.
The UN Security Council welcomed the announcement of the humanitarian pause and urged all parties “to exercise restraint in cases of isolated violations and to avoid escalation.” The council also said “no party should take advantage of the pause to move weapons or seize territory.”
Council members urged all parties to facilitate the urgent delivery of humanitarian assistance to all parts of Yemen.
The pause announced Thursday comes just days after the UN warned that the Arab world’s poorest country is “one step” from famine. Yemen relies on imports for the bulk of its food and fuel, but the coalition has imposed a near-complete air and sea blockade during the fighting. The rebels want the blockade lifted completely.
The UN this month declared its highest-level humanitarian emergency in Yemen on July 1. The UN humanitarian office says 80 percent of the population needs aid, and millions are close to famine.
Yemen’s exiled government had wanted the rebels to withdraw from the cities and towns they had overrun since September as a precondition to a truce, but it came under pressure to agree to a halt in violence immediately.
Witnesses and officials said the truce was holding in the country’s second major city, Aden, and other cities. There were reports of minor fighting in parts of Aden, including missiles that landed near military installations in the in the north and west. Security officials said missiles fell near military installations controlled by rebels.
The officials, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said coalition airplanes flew over Aden.
Aid convoys had lined up outside Aden to be allowed in, but none had moved amid the reports of fighting.
More than 3,000 people have been killed in Yemen since March, when the Saudi-led, US-backed coalition began airstrikes against the Houthi rebels who have seized control of the capital and other cities.
Soon after the fragile truce came into effect, Houthi rebel officials said they are committed to the truce. They spoke on condition of anonymity as they waited to see whether the other side, Yemen’s exiled government and allied troops on the ground, would also commit.
Late Thursday and just before the truce came into effect, a suspected US drone strike killed four al-Qaida militants traveling by car in the coastal city of Mukalla, controlled by the militant group, in eastern Yemen.
Al-Qaida has profited from the turmoil that has gripped Yemen, seizing new territories.
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