Troops backed by a Saudi-led coalition have launched an assault on Yemen’s main port city of Hodeidah, in the biggest battle of a three-year war between an alliance of Arab states and the Iran-aligned Houthis.
Coalition planes and warships were carrying out strikes on Houthi fortifications to support ground operations by Yemeni troops gatherd south of the Red Sea port, the internationally recognised Yemeni government in exile said in a statement.
The “Golden Victory” operation began after the passing of a deadline set by the United Arab Emirates for the Houthis, who hold the capital Sanaa, to quit the sole port under their control.
More than 7,000 miles from Washington and far from America’s headlines, a war in Yemen is rewriting America’s strategy against Iran and terrorism.
The three-sided civil war pits two radical Islamist forces — Al-Qaeda’s largest surviving army and Iran’s biggest proxy force — against each other and six of America’s Arab allies. U.S. Special forces carry out covert raids and CIA drones rain down missiles on terror leaders.
The outcome of the Yemen war matters: U.S. forces are fighting there and a new strategy against terrorism is now being tested in the Middle East’s poorest nation.
WASHINGTON — For years, the American military has sought to distance itself from a brutal civil war in Yemen, where Saudi-led forces are battling rebels who pose no direct threat to the United States.
But late last year, a team of about a dozen Green Berets arrived on Saudi Arabia’s border with Yemen, in a continuing escalation of America’s secret wars.
With virtually no public discussion or debate, the Army commandos are helping locate and destroy caches of ballistic missiles and launch sites that Houthi rebels in Yemen are using to attack Riyadh and other Saudi cities.
As Yemen continues to battle civil war and stave off famine, militants with the Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s (AQAP) branch Ansar Al Sharia are seizing upon the latest unrest to attract people to jihad.
This week jihadis launched a contest in the city of Taiz offering prizes, including an automatic rifle, a pistol and other incentives to entrants who listen to a series of audio lectures on jihad, study accompanying text and then write a 30-page review of the syllabus.
Flyers, handed out by gun-toting militants, state that the contest entitled, “Our Message,” was launched in honor of the upcoming Muslim holy month of Ramadan with entries due on the middle on the 15th of Ramadan.
A total of 10 prizes have been promised, including a brand new AK-47 automatic rifle for the winner and a motorcycle for the runner-up. The various other prizes include a pistol, a laptop and a cellphone, as well as cash prizes.
Salesian priest Father Tom Uzhunnalil was abducted when four armed terrorists believed to be from the Islamic State stormed a Catholic retirement home run by Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity in Aden last March. The militants slaughtering sixteen people, including four nuns.
At least 40 soldiers were killed in Yemen on Sunday after a suicide bomber blew himself up in the country’s second-largest city of Aden. Dozens more were injured at the gathering near Solban army base in northeastern Aden, military officials and medics said.
Iranian-backed Houthi rebels are using hospitals as military command posts, thereby deliberately putting the lives of innocent civilians at risk, according to a new report into Yemen’s long-running civil war.
Hostilities in the Yemeni conflict resumed at the weekend following the collapse of peace talks in Kuwait. The talks came after Houthi fighters, who are backed by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards, rejected a U.N.-sponsored peace plan and announced the establishment of a 10-member governing body to run the country.
Muslim allies of Saudi Arabia piled pressure on UN chief Ban Ki-moon over the blacklisting of a Saudi-led coalition for killing children in Yemen, with Riyadh threatening to cut Palestinian aid and funds to other UN programs, diplomatic sources said on Tuesday.
The United Nations announced on Monday it had removed the coalition from a child rights blacklist – released last week – pending a joint review by the world body and the coalition of cases of child deaths and injuries during the war in Yemen.
Two bombings hit Baghdad on Tuesday, killing at least 44 people and wounding more than 90, police and medical sources said, following the bloodiest week of attacks inside the capital so far this year.
A suicide bombing in a marketplace in the northern district of al-Shaab killed 38 people and wounded more than 70, while a car bomb in the southern neighbourhood of al-Rasheed left six dead and another 21 wounded, the sources said.
And from Yemen on Sunday… graphic… IS claims suicide attack killing 25 in Mukalla
The US military has for the first time publicly acknowledged that US troops are operating inside Yemen to help the country’s government and a Saudi-backed coalition confront al-Qaida affiliated forces.
Defense department spokesman Navy captain Jeff Davis said on Friday that a “very small number” of military personnel has in recent weeks been working with Yemeni and Arab Coalition forces to push al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) fighters from the port city of Mukalla.
The Pentagon has stepped up air strikes against the jihadists in the war-torn country, Davis said.
The reported deaths came during an attack on the southeastern port city of Mukalla, which had been held by al Qaeda for the past year, the Saudi-led coalition said on Monday in a statement published by the official Saudi news agency SPA.
“The operation resulted… in the death of more than 800 al Qaeda members and some of their leaders, while some others fled,” Arab coalition commanders said in the statement.
The death toll could not be independently confirmed. No number was given for civilian casualties.
A suicide bombing in Yemen on Thursday in which at least seven people were killed, was carried by Dutch jihadist Abu Hanifa al-Hulandi, according to Belgian jihad investigator Pieter van Ostayen.
The attack happened at the home of Yemen President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, in the coastal city of Aden, NRC reports. Terrorist organization Islamic State claimed the attack and released the suicide bomber’s name. According to the terrorist organization, ten people were killed and 20 injured. AFP reports eight deaths, Reuters reports seven.