Jeddah, Feb 2: Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Yemen on Thursday asked the UN Security Council to increase pressure on Houthi militias to respect a cease-fire deal. In a letter, the three governments accused the militias of violating the agreement in the port city of Hodeidah 970 times since it came into force on Dec. 18, 2018.
They asked the council to “impress upon the Houthis, and their Iranian backers, that they will be held responsible if their continued failure to comply... leads to the collapse of the Stockholm agreement.”
Yemen’s coalition-backed government and Houthi leaders agreed to the cease-fire and a redeployment of forces from Hodeidah during UN-brokered talks in Sweden last month.
UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash met with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres separately on Thursday to discuss problems in implementing the Stockholm deal.
“We understand that we need to exercise patience, but it can’t be infinite,” Gargash said. “We do not want to launch an offensive. What we want is for the UN and the international community to exert influence.”
The council also met behind closed doors to hear a report from UN envoy Martin Griffiths, after a fresh round of diplomatic talks with both sides.
A Yemeni army spokesman, Brig. Abdo Majali, said that the militias had violated the cease-fire in Hodeidah more than 760 times in the two weeks after it went into effect alone, including bombing residential neighborhoods, hospitals and schools.
He also accused Iran of complicity, saying it supported the militias by providing them with illegal munitions and land mines, later planted in populated areas.
Extensive air raid
Houthi commander Abdullah Jahaf, meanwhile, was killed in a coalition airstrike in the northwestern province of Hajjah, Al Arabiya reported on Friday.
The coalition also attacked a site east of the capital Sanaa on Thursday, which the Houthis had used to store drones, coalition spokesman Col. Turki Al-Maliki said.
The operation came after extensive intelligence gathering revealed a network of Houthi operational infrastructure, he explained, including workshops and launch sites, and came in the wake of a drone being shot down in Saudi airspace on Wednesday.
The Yemeni army, with support from the Arab coalition, launched a new operation on Thursday to retake strategic sites taken by Houthi militias in Kataf in Saada province.
In a statement to the Yemeni News Agency, a Yemeni army spokesman said that troops from the 82nd Infantry Brigade had retaken the strategic Jabal Al-Qahar mountains, as well as the villages of Rafqua, Al-Halfa’, Al-Akimi, and Al-Markib, that had previously witnessed large scale displacement of local residents.
He added that a number of Houthi militants, including two senior commanders, had been killed, while three more had been captured.
Saudis, UAE, Yemen ask UN to pressure Houthis