Rebel leader vows not to surrender

Published: Monday 20th April 2015 by The News Editor

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A Shiite rebel leader in Yemen vowed to not surrender amid Saudi-led airstrikes that have killed hundreds of people.

Abdul-Malek al-Houthi rejected UN efforts to halt violence there, even as the political party of the country’s former leader welcomed international efforts for a ceasefire.

His speech, his first since the Saudi campaign began, offered signs of cracks appearing in his alliance with Yemen’s one-time president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

However it signalled no sign of his rebels backing down from their offensive after earlier seizing the capital, Sanaa, and forcing President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi into exile.

“The great Yemeni people will never surrender and never be subjugated,” Mr al-Houthi said.

Saudi Arabia and allied countries began their airstrike campaign on March 26, hoping to roll back the Houthi advance, which began in September.

Western governments and Sunni Arab countries accuse the Houthis, who are largely Zayidi Shiites, of receiving military support from Iran.

Iran and the rebels deny that, though the Islamic Republic publicly has sent humanitarian aid into the country.

The strikes have killed hundreds of Houthi fighters and at least 364 civilians, the United Nations has said.

As Mr al-Houthi blamed Saudi Arabia, the US and Israel for orchestrating the campaign against his forces, the political party of Yemen’s former long-time autocrat said it welcomed a UN resolution calling for a ceasefire.

Mr Saleh’s General People’s Congress said it would “respond positively” to the UN Security Council resolution issued last week.

Pro-Saleh forces have been fighting alongside the Houthis.

The UN resolution demands that all Yemeni parties, especially the Houthis, end violence and return swiftly to UN-led peace talks aimed at a political transition.

It makes no mention of the Saudi-led airstrikes targeting the rebels and pro-Saleh forces.

Meanwhile yesterday, pro-Hadi forces regained control of part of the Aden coastline that had been held by the Houthis and their allies, security officials said.

The gained positions allow them to attack the rebel-held airport and cut off supplies to anti-Hadi forces.

Rebel forces also made another push to take the Dar Saad area, just north of Aden, but failed, the officials added.

In Amman, the UN said Saudi Arabia had agreed to fund completely a 273.7 million US dollar (£183 million) appeal for emergency aid to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe inside Yemen.

Purnima Kahsyap, humanitarian co-ordinator for the UN aid effort in Yemen, said he was thankful to Saudi Arabia for covering the entire appeal cost, but urged all other partners to continue to provide assistance.

The UN and aid partners have repeatedly called for pauses in the fighting so aid can be delivered.

Oxfam yesterday said an airstrike by the Saudi-led coalition hit one of its storage facilities in Saada governorate in northern Yemen.

“This is an absolute outrage, particularly when one considers that we have shared detailed information with the coalition on the locations of our offices and storage facilities,” country director Grace Ommer said.

It said no one was killed.

Published: Monday 20th April 2015 by The News Editor

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