Dubai: Iran-backed Al Houthi militants and forces loyal to ousted Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh are forcing dozens of teenagers to fight with them in the city of Taiz, according to Al Sharq Al Awsat.
The teenagers were said to be below the age of 15 and were being sent to fight after receiving only five days of basic training. The militants threatened the young boys and their families at gunpoint.
Families who refused to give up their children were expelled from their homes and their properties were seized.
In the province of Ibb, an Al Houthi leader was killed in the town of Dhaleh along with nine other militants after an ambush by pro-government Popular Resistance fighters.
Local sources identified the man as Abu Al Nasr, according to the news website ‘24’. The operation was carried out amid ongoing fierce battles between pro-government fighters and Al Houthi militants in cities across the country.
The sources also say that the militants have planted dozens of landmines in many neighbourhoods in the Dhaleh.
Meanwhile, on Thursday Al Houthis were accused of delaying the departure of a Russian plane from the capital Sana’a that was carrying more than 20 tons of humanitarian aid.
“The militias have prevented the departure [of the Russian aid plane] ... in an attempt to attract international attention,” Saudi Brigadier General Ahmad Al Assiri told Al Arabiya News channel.
He said the plane was set to depart on Friday. Al Assiri added that “only one Russia [aid] plane” landed in Yemen “after getting the permission from the Arab coalition.”
Meanwhile, the Russian ministry said the plane will be flying back to Moscow with around 75 people on board who apparently wanted to leave Sana’a, which is still under Al Houthi control.
It added that the Il-76 was transporting “23 tonnes of humanitarian aid” including food and tents.
Russia last sent planes to Yemen’s capital in July, with Moscow saying they had some 46 tonnes of aid.
Backed by a Saudi-led coalition that launched air strikes against Al Houthis in March, loyalist forces have been pressing to retake parts of the country seized by the militants and fighters loyal to Saleh.
Al Houthis seized control of Yemen’s capital Sana’a in September last year and then advanced south, forcing Hadi to flee to Saudi Arabia as they moved on the main southern city of Aden.
Backed by coalition strikes, supplies and troops, loyalist forces launched a major counter-offensive in July, pushing the militia out of Aden and four other southern provinces.