An UAE soldier in his armoured vehicle in the frontline conflict zone of Marib in central Yemen. Image Credit: REUTERS

Dubai: It is still premature to talk about the cessation of military operations by the Saudi-led Arab coalition in Yemen, Brigadier General Ahmad Al Assiri, advisor to the Saudi defense minister’s office and spokesman for the Arab coalition forces in Yemen, said on Monday.

The coalition’s military operations have not witnessed any changes or amendments since the Al Houthi militia accepted a new round of negotiations in Geneva, which were called for by the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

“The Arab coalition does not put faith in words but in deeds,” Al Assiri told the UAE’s Al Ittihad newspaper.

He called on Al Houthis and the deposed-president Ali Abdullah Saleh to show sufficient seriousness in doing their part to implement the terms of the UN resolution 2216, stressing that the decision to stop military operations would only then be entertained.

Al Assiri said Yemen’s security forces had thwarted a number of attempts to smuggle weapons into the country. “Security forces are conducting extensive investigations to unearth the circumstances of these smuggling attempts,” he said, pointing out that the coalition will not withhold any details about the way in which these weapons were seized.

“In October, we stopped an Iranian fishing vessel that was attempting to smuggle weapons to Al Houthi militants,” Al Assiri said. “The ship was loaded with more than 100 pieces of artillery shells, anti-tank missiles, and other weapons.”

He said coalition forces were able to curtail the military activities of Al Houthi militants and forces loyal to Saleh.

“Al Houthis are trying to hide their Scud missiles and heavy weaponry in some populated areas but we have been able to prevent them from accessing those areas and preserving the safety of the Yemeni population.”

He denied reports about an Iranian ship passing through the port of Bab Al Mandab towards the port of Hodeida, stressing that the Iranian government is spreading false propaganda.

Brigadier Al Assiri said the Arab coalition forces will not alter their military plans, unless the “legitimate government in Yemen requests us to do so. This would also require Al Houthis ... to be serious about implementing the terms of UN resolution 2216,” he said.

“The achievements made by the Arab coalition in the last six months are acceptable given the circumstances on the ground,” Al Assiri said, adding that “military operations are going according to plan and we receive intelligence reports from our military analysts”.

Meanwhile, Arab coalition forces reported strategic victories in Yemen on Tuesday, saying they had managed to push Al Houthi militants and forces loyal to Saleh away from Mokha, forcing them to withdraw.

Brigadier Adnan Al Hammadi, commander of the Dhabab front (part of a Yemeni military faction) said: “Many of the Fourth Brigade troops loyal to Saleh and Al Houthi rebels have been forced to withdraw from the city of Mokha. These forces were forced to withdraw to Mfirqa Mokha and Alberh as a result of heavy shelling from warships and coalition aircraft.”

The UAE’s Al Bayan newspaper reported that more than 25 militants were killed after they attacked a coalition intelligence building in the port of Mokha.

Coalition aircraft also bombed Al Houthi positions and forces in the city of Taiz in the Hawban area, killing about 50 Al Houthi militants while they attempted to bomb residential areas with Katyusha rockets.