Yemen’s Saleh assassinated
An image grab from a video on December 4 shows the body of former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh being transported in Yemen. Yemen’s Iran-backed Al Houthi militia attacked Saleh’s headquarters in Sana’a and later assassinated the fleeing former president. Image Credit: AFP

Al Mukalla: The Iran-backed Al Houthis has become a radicalised movement after killing Yemen’s ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh and Russia believes only a political solution can end the crisis in Yemen, Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov said.

Lavrov told RT on Monday that Al Houthi’s assassination of Saleh had made things worse in Yemen, and Russia has always advised militants to engage in talks with their opponents. “The assassination of Ali Abdullah Saleh, of course, has made this situation much more difficult and now Al Houthis have [become more] radicalised,” Lavrov said.

Russia has long been seen as an ally of Al Houthis and Saleh, and sent a medical team in October to treat Saleh from wounds he suffered during an assassination attempt in 2011. Russia and Iran have kept a diplomatic presence inside Al Houthi-held Sana’a despite regular criticism from the Saudi-led coalition, and the internationally-recognised government.

But when Al Houthis ruthlessly killed Saleh and subsequently suppressed his supporters, Russia relocated its mission from Sana’a to the Saudi capital. Al Houthis killed Saleh on December 4, after he broke ranks with them and declared a military uprising in Sana’a and other provinces. He also vowed to turn a “new page” with the Saudi-led coalition that intervened militarily in Yemen in March 2015 to blunt Al Houthi’s massive military expansion and to uphold the legitimacy of President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi’s government.

Meanwhile, Yemen’s Defence Ministry said on Wednesday that government forces backed by the Saudi-led coalition launched a military offensive in the northern province of Jawf to push Al Houthis from their remaining strongholds in the province. The ministry said in a statement on its official website that on Wednesday government forces attacked Al Houthi military locations in Khab and Al Sha’af, the largest district in the province. Al Houthis have suffered heavy setbacks in Jawf after government forces took control of the main cities, including the capital, Hazem and a number of military posts. The ministry also said an Al Houthi commander was killed and a number of his associates arrested in clashes with government forces in Jawf.

In Sana’a, Al Houthis mourned the death of a military commander who was killed on the Red Sea battlefield. Brigadier Yasser Al Ahmar, the commander of Brigade 135, was killed in an identified location in the western province of Hodeida, according to Al Houthi-controlled arm of the official Saba news agency. Hundreds of Al Houthis have been killed or arrested in Hodeida when government forces thrust into the province for the first time since the beginning of the war in 2015.