Ye­men truce ends as rebels threaten more drone at­tacks

The Daily Telegraph - - World news - By in Am­man Sara El­iz­abeth Wil­liams

HOPES for a fresh truce in Ye­men were dealt a blow over the week­end as Houthi rebels boy­cotted Un-bro­kered peace talks and threat­ened fur­ther drone strikes against pro-gov­ern­ment forces.

The threat came days after a Houthi drone at­tack on a gov­ern­ment mil­i­tary pa­rade in the south­ern prov­ince of La­haj killed sev­eral peo­ple. A se­nior in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cial in­jured in that at­tack died of his wounds yes­ter­day.

Yahya Sarea, a Houthi spokesman, called the strike a “le­git­i­mate op­er­a­tion against ag­gres­sion”. He said Houthis were work­ing to amass a stock­pile of lo­cally man­u­fac­tured drones. “Soon there will be enough in the strate­gic stock­pile to launch more than one drone op­er­a­tion in mul­ti­ple bat­tle fronts at the same time,” Sarea told re­porters in the Houthi-held cap­i­tal Sana’a. The threat came as lead­ers of the Iran-backed rebel fac­tion re­fused to at­tend a meet­ing with the head of the UN cease­fire mon­i­tor­ing team in Hodeida.

Mo­hammed Ab­del­salam, a Houthi ne­go­tia­tor, said his del­e­ga­tion boy­cotted the meet­ing be­cause Patrick Cam­maert, the re­tired Dutch gen­eral who heads the mon­i­tor­ing team, had steered “from the course of the agree­ment by im­ple­ment­ing other agen­das”.

He ap­pealed on Twit­ter to Martin Grif­fiths, the UN en­voy for Ye­men, to deal with the is­sue, and warned that, if left un­ad­dressed: “It is go­ing to be dif­fi­cult to dis­cuss any other mat­ter.”

The diplo­matic hold-up came after fight­ing erupted be­tween Houthis and Saudi-backed gov­ern­ment forces in Hodei­dah on Satur­day, shat­ter­ing a frag­ile cease­fire. The rebel-held port city – a life­line for the de­liv­ery of des­per­ately needed hu­man­i­tar­ian aid – was for months the frontline in the war after gov­ern­ment forces sup­ported by Saudi Ara­bia and its al­lies launched an of­fen­sive to cap­ture it in June.

The sides had agreed to a cease­fire for Hodeida in talks chaired by Mr Grif­fiths in Rimbo, Swe­den, in De­cem­ber.

Ye­men has ex­pe­ri­enced a hu­man­i­tar­ian melt­down since a Saudi-led coali­tion be­gan an ae­rial cam­paign against Houthi rebels in March 2015. Around 24 mil­lion Ye­me­nis, or 80 per cent of the pop­u­la­tion, are in need of aid. Up to 85,000 chil­dren are thought to have starved to death since the war be­gan.

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