Middle EastSaudi ArabiaYemen

Yemeni forces progress in Ma’rib amid concerns over Saudi-led forces using refugees as ‘human shield’

Yemeni armed forces, backed by fighters from Popular Committees, have made more gains in the country’s strategic central province of Ma’rib, wresting control over more regions amid concerning reports that Saudi-led soldiers and their mercenaries are using refugees as “human shield” to slow the advance of Yemeni sides.

Military sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Lebanon-based and Arabic-language al-Mayadeen television news network that Yemeni forces and their allies could establish control over the areas of Malbuda, Hamma al-Za’aib and Nakhla in the Medghal district, besides Hamma al-Hamra area in the Sirwah district.

The sources highlighted that Yemeni armed forces were able to make progress in Sirwah and Medghal districts despite incessant airstrikes by Saudi-led coalition warplanes.

They added that bitter clashes between Yemeni forces and Saudi-sponsored militants loyal to Yemen’s former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi have also left dozens of people dead or wounded on both sides.

Separately, several pro-Hadi militants were killed or injured when a Saudi-led fighter jets ‘mistakenly’ struck their gathering in Nakhla area.

Al-Mayadeen TV also reported that Saudi-led military aircraft had carried out more than two dozen airstrikes in the Sirwah and Medghal districts over the past few hours to support the Riyadh regime’s mercenaries in their repeated attempts to counter operations by Yemeni troops.

The developments took place a day after Ma’rib provincial governor Ali Mohammed Ta’iman said Saudi-led forces and their allies were using displaced persons as human shields on the outskirts of the city of Ma’rib.

Ta’iman stated that Saudi-led forces have refused to allow refugees to move to safer areas and away from confrontations, in a desperate attempt to trade their sufferings and use them to slow the advance of Yemeni army soldiers and fighters from Popular Committees.

He pointed out that Yemeni armed forces have been careful to spare civilians, including displaced persons, ever since they started their military operations in Ma’rib, warning that Saudi-led militants are keeping artillery systems near some refugee camps.

Ta’iman highlighted that the local authority has even submitted several initiatives to move displaced persons to areas away from conflict zones, but Saudi-backed militants have turned down the requests.

Over the past few weeks, Ma’rib has been the scene of large-scale operations by Yemeni troops and allied Popular Committees fighters, who are pushing against Saudi-sponsored pro-Hadi militants.

Saudi Arabia, backed by the US and its other regional allies, launched a devastating war on Yemen in March 2015, with the goal of bringing the government of Yemen’s former president back to power and crushing Ansarullah. 

Yemeni armed forces and allied Popular Committees have, however, gone from strength to strength against the Saudi-led invaders, and left Riyadh and its allies bogged down in the country.

The Saudi-led military aggression has left hundreds of thousands of Yemenis dead, and displaced millions of people.

It has also destroyed Yemen’s infrastructure and spread famine and infectious diseases across the country.

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