Southern separatists killed in Houthi missile strike on Yemen military parade

Southern separatists killed in Houthi missile strike on Yemen military parade
At least five southern separatists were killed in a Houthi attack on a passing our ceremony in Dhale on Sunday, officials said.
3 min read
29 December, 2019
The Houthi strike was the second such attack on a military parade since July [Twitter]
A missile struck a passing out ceremony in southern Yemen on Sunday, killing at least five southern separatists, security officials said.

The ceremony in Dhale was for new recruits to the separatist-dominated Security Belt Forces, a formation trained and equipped by the United Arab Emirates to patrol territory retaken from northern rebels or al-Qaeda, its spokesmen Majed al-Shuaibi said.

Five soldiers were killed and nine others wounded when the missile hit the reviewing stand during the march-past. 

Shuaibi told AFP the missile was fired by the Houthi rebels who control the capital Sanaa and much of the north.

But there was no immediate claim of responsibility from the Iran-allied rebels, whose forces are present in the mountains just 60 kilometres (40 miles) north of Dhale.

The mountainous southern city is regarded the frontline between the Houthi-held north and the government-controlled south, and has seen frequent violence since the conflict began.

Hundreds of fighters from both camps have died in battles in Dhale. The city has also seen violence erupt between the pro-government camp, with clashes being reported between units from Hadi's presidency brigades and the Security Belt Forces – a UAE-backed pro-government militia.

"Most Houthi fighters captured or found killed along the battlefield in Dhale are unfortunately child soldiers," a government source told The New Arab in May.

“Dhale is the border between the north and south of Yemen, whoever controls this strategic part of the country holds the gateway to the south," the source added. 

The Houthi attack on recruits on Sunday came months after a similar attack further south.

In August, 36 Security Belt soldiers were killed in a drone and missile attack by the Houthis on a military parade ceremony just outside the main southern city of Aden.

A high-ranking Yemeni intelligence official, Brigadier General Saleh Tamah, was killed in the strike on a military parade in al-Anad airbase, in the government-held Lahj province some 60 kilometres (40 miles) north of Yemen's second city and temporary capital Aden.

Among those injured were Yemen's deputy chief of staff Saleh al-Zandani, senior army commander Fadel Hasan and Lahj governor Ahmad Abdullah al-Turki.

The security forces in the south have also come under repeated attack by both al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other Arab countries intervened in Yemen's civil war in March 2015 in support of the internationally recognised government, which had been forced into exile by the Iran-backed Houthi movement.

Read more: Yemen in Focus: A deadly new battle emerges in Dhale

But the UAE has been accused by Yemen’s Hadi government of attempting to occupy the south of the country, where it has established a strong base and trained thousands of fighters.

The UAE’s activities in the south triggered a war within a war between rival unionist and separatist elements of the loyalist security forces, which the UAE backs.

The Security Belt Forces seized Aden in deadly fighting with unionists in August but a fragile truce reached in Saudi Arabia last month has so far failed to produce a promised power-sharing government.

The conflict, which escalated with the Saudi-led coalition intervention in 2015, has unleashed the world's worst humanitarian crisis, according to the UN, which says 80 percent of the population - 24 million people - are in need of aid.  

Nearly 10 million people are just one step away from famine, UN aid chief Mark Lowcock warned, and figures suggest more than 100,000 have been killed.


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