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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 18 January 2019

Anwar Gargash calls for more pressure on Houthis after drone attack

Yemen rebels using peace talks to gain tactical advantage, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs says

An image grab taken from a video shows a Houthi drone exploding above Yemen's Al Anad air base on January 10, 2019. AFP
An image grab taken from a video shows a Houthi drone exploding above Yemen's Al Anad air base on January 10, 2019. AFP

The UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs has called for more international pressure on Yemen's Houthi rebels after a drone attack on government troops on Thursday that killed three soldiers and wounded high-ranking officers.

The "murderous drone attack tells you everything you need about the Houthis. Peace negotiations are a tactic to them, not a commitment," Dr Anwar Gargash tweeted.

"464 ceasefire violations, 36 killed & 318 wounded since Stockholm agreement. The international community must increase pressure," he said, blaming the Houthis for the slow progress of peace efforts.

Three soldiers were killed and four senior officers were among 20 others injured when the rebels detonated a drone above a military parade at Al Anad in base Lahj province. One of the wounded officers, intelligence chief Brig Mohammed Saleh Tammah, was recovering on Friday after undergoing an operation to remove shrapnel from his body, a source told The National.

The Yemeni government has ordered a high-level investigation into the attack, which ministers said was carried out with assistance from the rebels' ally Iran.

The UN special envoy for Yemen appealed for "restraint" after the attack and said he was alarmed by the "escalation of violence in Yemen".

In tweets posted overnight on Thursday, Martin Griffiths urged "all parties to the conflict to exercise restraint and refrain from further escalation" and to "create a conducive environment to maintain the positive momentum generated" at peace talks in Sweden last month.

The attack came a day after Mr Griffiths told the UN security Council that a three-week-old ceasefire agreement for Hodeidah province and its ports was largely holding, despite repeated rebel violations reported by the government and the Arab Coalition.

The ceasefire calls for the rebels to first withdraw from Hodeidah's three ports through which the bulk of Yemen's humanitarian and food shipments arrive, and for forces from both sides to then pull out of the city and cease fighting in the surrounding province. A team of UN monitors arrived in the city on December 23 but there has been no confirmed progress in implementing the ceasefire.

The pro-government Al Amalikah Brigades reported another rebel attack south of Hoideidah on Thursday.

Captain Fadel Hudyan, a commander in the Amalikah 12th Brigade, said the rebels had attempted to break into the Jabalia area in Tuhaiyta district but were repelled.

"The Houthi militia have launched many attempts to take over Al Jabalia in a bid to cut the main supply route in the area, but all the attempts were doomed to failure," Capt Hudyan told The National.

Thursday's drone attack is likely to pose a setback to UN efforts to launch formal peace talks to end four years of devastating conflict that have left millions of Yemenis dependent on humanitarian aid to survive.

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Read more:

Mike Pompeo announces international summit on Middle East security and Iran's threat

UN Yemen envoy hints peace talks could be delayed

UAE says UN must hold Houthis to peace commitments in Yemen

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Updated: January 11, 2019 06:17 PM

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