US Dispatches Special Forces To Yemen

source: RTTNews

US special forces have reportedly been sent to Yemen to train its army, as the Yemeni military backed by its Saudi counterpart battle local Houthi fighters in the country’s north.

Amidst reports that the Yemini army is not fighting with al- Qaeda militants, which are based in the southern parts of the country, American officials reportedly told the Daily Telegraph Sunday that its special forces had been sent to Yemen to prevent the country from turning into a “reserve base” for al-Qaeda.

The development came as Houthi fighters, led by Abdul Malik al-Houthi, on Sunday said Saudi forces launched a major cross-border airstrike on Yemen, leaving more than 70 civilians dead and over 100 others injured in the northern district of Razeh.

It also came as Yemen’s north-eastern neighbor Oman announced the arrest of “dozens” of al-Qaeda fighters moving in and out of the country. The moderate Arab state is to intensify naval patrols around the Arabian peninsula to intercept suspected terrorists on the move between bases in Yemen and South Asia.

The conflict in northern Yemen started in 2004 between Sana’a and Houthi fighters and intensified in 2009 when the Yemeni army launched Operation “Scorched Earth” in an attempt to crush the Shia fighters in the northern province of Sa’ada.

File:Yemen-CIA WFB Map.png

The government claims that the Houthi fighters seek to restore the Shia Zaidi imamate system, which was overthrown in a 1962 coup–a claim rejected by the Houthis, who in turn accuse the Yemeni government of violation of their civil rights, political, economic and religious marginalization as well as large-scale corruption.

The Saudi air force has further aggravated the conflict by launching its own operations against Shia resistance fighters, reportedly using phosphorus bombs.

Meanwhile, International aid agencies and some UN bodies including the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) have expressed concern over the precarious condition of the Yemeni civilians who have become the main victims of the conflict.

Deploring the plight of children in northern Yemen, UNICEF’s Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Sigrid Kaag, said “They (children) are living in difficult conditions, away from their homes and schools despite significant humanitarian relief efforts.”

UNHCR estimates that since 2004, up to 175,000 people were forced to leave their homes in Sa’ada and take refuge at overcrowded camps in which, according to UN reports, bad conditions have resulted in children’s deaths.

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