Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 July 2019

Mystery over Houthi interior minister's death in Lebanon

The minister’s death comes as Houthi rebels suffer big losses in clashes with pro-government forces

A Yemeni child displays posters of Houthi leaders for sale in Sana'a, Yemen. EPA
A Yemeni child displays posters of Houthi leaders for sale in Sana'a, Yemen. EPA

Houthi rebels announced on Saturday evening the death of its interior minister, who they say was receiving medical treatment in a Lebanese hospital.

Brigadier Abdulhakeem Al Mawri died while he was in Lebanon to receive care for a chronic disease, according to the Houthi-owned news channel Al-Masirah.

A source in Sanaa, who declined to be named, told The National that the sudden death of the Houthi minister is “a mystery”. The Houthis had never issued any prior statements alluding to Mr Al Mawri’s deteriorating health.

"So far, there is no clear information regarding the reasons behind his death," according to the source, who said it could be the result of injuries suffered following a coalition airstrike. Mr Al Mawri may have been evacuated by UN aircraft together with dozens of Houthi injured in December 2018, before the Yemen peace talks held in Sweden.

Mr Al Mawri, 60, was appointed by the Houthi authorities in Sanaa in 2017. Prior to that, he served as director of the security forces in the Sada province, a Houthi stronghold.

Meanwhile, 24 Houthi fighters have been killed amid fierce clashes between the Security Belt Forces and the Southern resistance in the Hamak front, in Al Dhalea province south of Yemen.

“We were able to destroy two Houthi armoured vehicles in addition to one anti aircrafts gun and one tank, killing all Houthi fighters in them and capturing some of them as they tried to flee towards the Ibb province,” Colonel Ahmed Qaid said.

Mr Qaid said the tribal sheikhs in the Al Awd area had surrendered strategic sites to the Houthis without any resistance, adding to their crucial gains last week in the Al Nadira district and the Al Sabrah district in the Ibb province in northern Yemen.

The spokesperson of the Security Belt Forces in Al Dhalea, Waheed Al Sufyani, spoke of a “big conspiracy”. He said the local sheikhs had worked with military officers in the pro-government 30th armoured brigade to plan a coup against the brigade’s commander in order to pave the way to a Houthi take-over. The commander of the brigade, Maj Gen Hadi Al Oulaqi, survived an assassination attempt when an officer in the brigade shot him on Wednesday.

“The conspiracy was foiled and all the actors behind it were caught. Among them is Aziz Al Sayadi, the officer who shot on the commander of the 30th brigade,” Mr Al-Sufyani told The National.

Pro-government forces gained ground on Friday as they took over Al Qahrah village in eastern Mureis, an area north of the province of Dhalea. They closed in on the Houthi fighters on the top of the strategic mountain of Nasah, according to Maeen Al Sheikh, a field commander in the pro-government forces in Mureis.

Updated: April 21, 2019 03:04 PM

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