Middle East

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AL-MUKALLA: The government of Yemen on Tuesday criticized the Iran-backed Houthis for turning Sanaa airport into a military site for storing and testing weapons.

Yemen’s Information Minister Muammar Al-Eryani said that the Houthis imperil the lives of thousands of Sanaa residents by turning civilian facilities, including Sanaa airport, into military areas for storing and assembling missiles, explosives-rigged drones and ammunition.

He tweeted that Houthi militia had used government offices, civil facilities, airports, ports, houses, mosques and markets for military purposes, in flagrant violation of international laws that criminalize using of civilians as shields and endanger their lives.

The Yemeni minister was reacting to a video released by the Arab coalition on Monday that shows officers in civilian clothes testing an air defense system at Sanaa airport, using a departing UN plane as a target.

He called on the international community and the UN and US envoys to condemn the Houthis’ activities that “endanger the lives of United Nations crews and relief organizations, which amount to war crimes.”

The Houthi official media quoted a rebel official who admitted testing weapons at a military base next to Sanaa airport.

Large explosions rocked the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, early on Tuesday morning after the Arab coalition warplanes struck two military sites controlled by the Houthis.

The coalition said in a statement on Tuesday that the warplanes hit “legitimate” targets, including ballistic missile silos.

The US repeated its demands to the Houthis on Monday to release Yemeni workers abducted from its embassy in Sanaa and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and to stop harassing their families.

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“The United States condemns the Houthis’ detention and mistreatment of dozens of Yemeni citizens and their family members simply because they have worked for the United States in Sanaa,” the US Embassy in Yemen said on Twitter.

Early this month, the Houthis stormed the US Embassy in Sanaa, looting property and abducting two dozen local employees.

Meanwhile, fighting between the coalition-backed forces and the Houthis subsided on Tuesday along the country’s western provinces as loyalists secured and removed landmines from recently liberated areas in Hodeidah and Taiz provinces.

The Yemeni forces have pushed the Houthis out of many areas since the beginning of their new offensive on Friday.


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