A senior Yemeni official says the country’s army troops and fighters from allied Popular Committees will establish full control over the entire districts of the central province of Ma’rib in case Saudi-led militants refuse calls for a ceasefire in the strategic area.
Ma’rib provincial governor in Yemen's National Salvation Government, Major General Ali Muhammad Taiman, told Lebanon’s Arabic-language al-Mayadeen television news network that the Yemeni army troops and allies are now in control of 85% of the province, and are only about 6 to 7 kilometers away from the provincial capital of the same name.
He added that the Yemeni armed forces are currently positioned on the outskirts of Ma'rib city, stressing that, “We agreed to the initiative by [the leader of Yemen’s popular Ansarullah resistance movement] Abdul-Malik Badreddin al-Houthi, for a ceasefire. Saudi militants, (loyal to Yemen's fugitive former President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi), however, kept bombing women and children. We want peace and strongly oppose bloodshed.”
He added, “Houthi’s initiative is fair, as it involves the locals of Ma'rib in its administration and appropriation of its resources. Such an initiative had not been developed for the past 40 years. We presented the truce initiative from a position of strength.”
Taiman highlighted that he was “ready to sit with his counterpart in Hadi’s administration, Major Sultan al-Aradah, either in the al-Jubah district or in Sirwah, in order to discuss the initiative and stop skirmishes in Ma’rib.”
“We hope [Saudi] mercenaries in Ma’rib would agree to Houthi’s initiative, and quickly implement it if they want to spare the province from war and destruction,” he added.
The senior Yemeni official noted, “If the mercenaries have the courage to take the decision, we are ready to sit down with them.”
Taiman said, “While we follow the initiative and are waiting for the other side’s action(s), no measure has unfortunately been taken yet. Yemeni army forces and fighters from Popular Committees would not hesitate to liberate the rest of Ma’rib in case Saudi mercenaries turn down the truce initiative.”
10,000s of Yemenis stranded by Saudi blockade on Sana’a airport
Aid agencies say tens of thousands of Yemenis in dire need of medical care have been stranded by the tight Saudi blockade on Sana’a International Airport.
The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere (CARE) have reported that 32,000 people in northern Yemen have not been able to travel outside Yemen for potentially life-saving treatment.
“It’s like a hostage situation that has lasted for five years,” NRC acting country director Isaac Ooko said.
He added, “Patients are trapped in Yemen even where there is a route to save them. For thousands of sick Yemenis who need urgent medical treatment abroad, these last five years have amounted to a death sentence.”
The closure of the airport coupled with Saudi restrictions on goods entering the north through Hudaydah port has nearly halted the entry of medicine, medical supplies and equipment, causing prices to rise, making healthcare unaffordable for most Yemenis, and contributing to the unraveling of the healthcare system, the NRC and CARE said.
Sana’a airport director Khaled al-Shayef said, “There are international demands to open Sana’a airport as a result of the catastrophic humanitarian repercussions of its continued closure, [but] the [Saudi-dominated] coalition countries are still insisting on linking this to other files, including military and political ones.”
Saudi Arabia, backed by the US and regional allies, launched the war on Yemen in March 2015, with the goal of bringing Hadi’s government back to power and crushing the popular Ansarullah resistance movement.
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 war has left hundreds of thousands of Yemenis dead, and displaced millions more. It has also destroyed Yemen's infrastructure and spread famine and infectious diseases.