Minister says she fled the capital after spate of arrests, kidnappings and killings
Houthis eliminating thousands of Saleh supporters, defector from rebel government says
Yemen’s Houthi rebels are eliminating thousands of members of the General People's Congress party of Ali Abdullah Saleh, their former ally whom they killed this month, a senior member has said.
The rebels arrested 3,000 Saleh loyalists and 2,000 others have disappeared in recent weeks, Nawra Al Garwi said after fleeing from Sanaa, the rebel-held capital, to neighbouring Marib province.
Ms Al Garwi, who served as deputy minister of youth and sports, confirmed to Al Arabiya that the rebels had stormed the homes of Saleh's daughters and aunts in Sanaa.
Sources said that she decided to flee after a spate of arrests, kidnappings and killings following Saleh's death and on learning that the rebels were searching for her because she had led women’s protests to demand the return of his body.
The Houthis killed Saleh as he was trying to flee Sanaa on December 4, days after the former Yemeni president broke off his alliance with the Iran-backed rebels and called for talks with the Saudi-led military coalition supporting the internationally recognised government.
Ms Al Garwi called for GPC members and Saleh supporters to join the government forces in the fight against the Houthi rebels.
Government forces backed the Saudi-led coalition have made a series of gains against the rebels in recent weeks and on Saturday reclaimed “strategic areas" in eastern Sanaa province.
Troops and fighters loyal to the government of president Abdrabu Mansur Hadi captured the mountains of Dahshush, Jabal Al Tafaha, Tabat Al Qanaseen and Jabal Al Mashna, an army spokesman said.
The Yemeni forces killed 28 rebels and wounded dozens of others, he said in a statement carried by state news agency Wam.
Dozens of Houthi rebels have been killed by snipers in the past two weeks, a security source said on Sunday.
“Two Houthis were shot and killed by a sniper with silencers yesterday in the Shoub area in Sanaa,” the source said, adding that created fear among the rebels because they " didn't know where the shots were coming from".
Meanwhile, more than 20 Houthi fighters surrendered to Yemeni troops in the Bayhan district of Shabwa, joining the dozens of rebels who have surrendered in the southern province in the past two weeks, the Yemeni defence ministry’s 26 September news website reported.
A spokesman for the Yemeni army said the Houthi rebels were “suffering major losses” on all fronts — in Hodeidah and Taez provinces in the west as well as in the northern provinces of Al Jawf and Saada, a stronghold of the rebels.
“They are suffering major losses day after day as our military forces tighten their grip over the lands which they control,” Maj Gen Abdo Majali said on Sunday.
“They were wiped out from Shabwa, and the last posts in Al Safara and Haid bin Akeel were liberated, along with the road that links Shabwa, Marib and Al Bayda provinces,” he said.
“Al Bayda province will also soon be liberated as the main road is clear now.”
Maj Gen Majali said Yemeni authorities had also arrested a number of high-ranking Houthi officials along with loyalists, who were “engineers and responsible for the thousands of landmines planted in various places they controlled”.
He said they had recovered maps detailing landmine positions that had been printed in Tehran, where most of the engineers were trained.
There was fierce fighting yesterday between government forces in Al Hamily and Al Nujaiba in the Taez province, as well as in Hodeidah, a military source told The National.
At least 20 Houthis were killed and 16 were injured, while three fighters were killed on the government side, the source said.
More than 10,000 people have been killed so far in Yemen's civil war, which began after the Houthis overran Sanaa in September 2014. The Saudi-led coalition, which includes the UAE, intervened on behalf of the government in March 2015.