Air strikes continue in Sa’ada with hundreds of victims [Archives:2007/1027/Front Page]

February 22 2007

By: Mohammed bin Sallam
SANA'A, Feb. 21 – Yemeni air forces have continued targeting Al-Houthi followers' hideouts on various fronts in Sa'ada. After fierce confrontations with government forces Monday evening, Houthis managed to recover two sites government forces occupied earlier.

According to reliable tribal sources, Monday's confrontations left 15 military personnel dead and 20 others injured, while Houthis losses weren't recorded due to lack of communications and a media blackout.

Confrontations also continued in Bani Mua'ath, Al-Safra'a and Al-Salem and there is information about clashes in some Khawlan, areas such as Juma't Bani Bahr, Wald Nawar in Maran and the areas of Al-Ashraf and Al-Malazem.

Moreover, the government still is using mortars to attack Al-Houthi hideouts in Al-Samma' and Al-Thurih, with numerous shells falling near a girls' school in Al-Ja'malah area.

The same sources revealed that a majority of Sa'ada areas have turned into a scene of war and closed military operations. Mortar attacks resulted in destroying dozens of homes in Al-Ashah and Al-Khafji. Further, the area of Al-Ablah witnessed clashes between the army and Al-Houthi rebels, with unknown numbers of victims on both sides.

Attempting to escape the random bombardment, many villages and areas have witnessed mass family evacuations to nearby mountains, with hundreds heading toward Sana'a and other governorates.

Most Sa'ada schools have stopped teaching due to the armed confrontations and attacks, which have continued throughout the past week and up until the writing of this report, despite the deadline announced by President Ali Abdullah Saleh, which ended last Monday.

According to, army forces began wide-ranging offenses last Monday on all fronts where Al-Houthi rebels exist, using all traditional weapons, together with fighters, including MiG 29, Sukhoy, helicopters, mortars, missiles and tanks.

The battles extended to Al-Naqah in Kittaf district, which is near the Yemeni-Saudi border, and Harf Sufian in Amran governorate. Fierce clashes also are occurring in Sahar's Al-Jamalah, Al-Shabakah, Muthab and Al-Mahther.

Other information indicates that fighters have been hovering over Sa'ada, Dhahian and Al-Hamazat since Monday morning and that official parties haven't issued any statement about their human or military losses until now.

At a meeting with the Yemeni Scholars Association last Monday, President Saleh accused Al-Houthi rebels of implementing a foreign and regional plot at the risk of Yemen's national interests. He maintained that investigations of some arrested Houthis reveal that they are implementing foreign plots to settle accounts with other parties.

Saleh also renewed his rejection of their acts, declaring that Yemenis will fight them. He added that their behavior reveals the extent of outdated racism and terrorism to which they reached and further reveals that they don't believe in democracy or freedom.

He urged the association chairman and members to educate citizens about what's going on in Sa'ada under Al-Houthis in order to prevent sedition and sectarianism from being incited in Yemeni society, which serve nothing except other parties' interests.

He further considered Al-Houthi followers targeting armed forces as criminal acts going against Yemeni law and constitution. He didn't imply any indication of pacification or a search for a peaceful solution; rather, he simply confined his remarks to describing them as renegades.

President Saleh said his meeting with the scholars was within a continuing string of meetings with constitutional institutions, including Parliament, the Shoura Council and political parties and organizations to inform them about the developments of sedition so that they will take up their national and religious responsibilities. He added that scholars should join hands and unite their efforts to stand against such straying and distorted schools of thought.

Several scholars described as close to the authority made a statement the following day, requesting the state to put down the sedition ignited by terrorist elements in Sa'ada, maintain security and protect society and its interests.

They further stressed that Yemeni society shouldn't dispense with all things that divide people and weaken their unity and warned that reliving sectarianism will incur problems and tragedies for the Islamic nation.

In related news, media sources reported that extremist groups from Aden-Abyan Army, whose number wasn't defined, have headed to Sa'ada governorate to join military units in their war against Al-Houthi rebels. This was timed with the official military's mobilizing address, which calls for fighting Al-Houthis. quoted local sources in Abyan as saying that Salafi groups were transferred from Abyan to Sa'ada last Monday to fight with government forces.

The same sources also revealed that groups belonging to Hittat Jihadists, headed by Khalid Abdunabi – coincidentally, groups which fought the army within past years – also have joined army forces after being prompted by an inciting address against Shi'ites in Abyan's mosques.

Sources referred to last Friday's sermon in Zingibar's Al-Toumisi Mosque, wherein the preacher called Shi'ite followers “disbelievers,” along with those who support Hezbollah and its leader, Hassan Nasrallah.

Adopting a blasphemous address against Shi'ites, many government institutions, armed forces and security leaderships, together with the local authority in Sa'ada, last Friday called upon all citizens there – whom they described as nationalists – to fight Al-Houthis.

Additionally, the Ministry of Endowments officially announced that it has distributed more than 300 preachers throughout all Yemeni governorates, including Sa'ada, to eliminate the Houthi sedition. Their sermons focus on blaspheming the 12th Shi'ite and warn about their risks. Minister of Endowments Hamoud Obad accused unnamed Shi'ite nations and institutions of supporting Houthis, noting that Yemen is being subjected to a vast conspiracy.

Abyan's Forum for Reconciliation and Toleration last Tuesday denounced what it called the authority's racial and inciting address against major components of civil society.

Published via, the statement assured that “Abyan's Forum rejects using force to face public demands.” It also pointed out that it denounces the authority's address, which describes Houthis as a terrorist group.

The Joint Meeting Parties renewed their denunciation of the new upsurge in confrontations between the army and Houthis in Sa'ada. In a statement distributed Tuesday, they also declared their complete readiness to participate in stopping the war and its sorrowful consequences.

They also called upon the Yemeni government and concerned authorities to use all legal and judicial measures to handle security issues. They further denounced politicizing such security issues, calling for treating the consequences ensuing from political conflicts and respecting citizens' rights.

The parties also renewed their rejection of military action for issues related to political and national differences. They called on all to continue via peaceful struggle and maintained that Sa'ada's case is a national case concerning all Yemenis.