Yemen’s Houthis kill five after village rejects conscription campaign

Five civilians including a woman were killed and dozens injured after male villagers in central Yemen refused to let Houthi rebels forcefully conscript them.

The rebels arrived in the village of Al Masaqira in Al Hada district of central Yemen’s Damar province last Thursday, a government source told The National, but locals refused to join them.

“The Houthi rebels attacked Al Masaqira and clashed with residents who refused to send their sons to the fronts to fight with them,” the source said.

“The Houthi militia have killed five civilians and injured others so far in a campaign going on for three days.”

The source said the militia sent more than 300 fighters backed by military vehicles to the village.

“The militia forces imposed a siege around the village, arrested 146 villagers and forcibly displaced women and children, shelling residences.”

Three homes were brunt down and several others were damaged by indiscriminate shelling in the village.

On Saturday, the Yemeni Minister of the Human Rights, Dr Mohammed Askar, condemned the campaign against the residents of Al Masaqira.

Dr Askar called on the international community to deal seriously with the Houthi crimes.

The Yemeni government has condemned the Houthi campaign against the civilians and criticised the international community’s silence over the crimes against those living under rebel control.

“I am surprised by the failure of the international community and the UN Security Council to take tough action against the militia as they conduct such atrocities against unarmed civilians,” Dr Askar said.

“The international silence emboldens the militia to go on with such atrocities.”

Damar, nearly 100 kilometres south of the capital Sanaa, is a region still controlled by the Houthis.

The rebels have intensified attacks against areas controlled by the Joint Forces in eastern and southern Hodeidah.

They attacked sites controlled Al Amalikah Brigades in Al Duraihimi district in eastern Hodeidah on Saturday, Col Wathah Al Dubaish, spokesman of the Joint Forces, told The National.

“Groups of Houthi fighters attempted to penetrate our sites in Al Shagan village in eastern Al Duraihimi on Saturday evening,” Col Al Dubaish said.

“The Houthi groups attacked our sites from different directions using rocket-propelled grenades and mortars, but our forces quickly repelled the attack amid fierce clashes that continued for two hours.

“Six Houthi fighters were killed.”

Meanwhile, the International Committee of the Red Cross said on Sunday that it was able to deliver humanitarian goods to civilians in Al Duraihimi city.

But the Joint Forces reported that the Houthis looted the supplies after the Red Cross left.

“The Houthi rebels forced the ICRC convoy to hand the aid supplies over to them without letting them distribute it to the starving people,” Col Al Dubaish said.

“As the convoy left the area, the Houthi rebels took the aid supplies to their warehouses.”

The Red Cross did not directly address the claim, but an official said the aid had been delivered.

“It was a complicated mission, including logistical ­challenges, but the ICRC was nevertheless able to enter the city of Al Duraihimi and deliver food, water, non-food and basic medical assistance,” an official said.

“For ICRC to be able to access and operate in an area close to front lines the parties to the conflict have to agree on the intervention and to provide the ICRC with solid security guarantees.”

When asked about the reports of Houthi fighters taking the aid, the official said that civilians in Al Duraihimi had assisted ICRC in “unloading the trucks”.

Col Al Dubaish said the rebels had been holding 19 families in the centre of Al Duraihimi since August last year.

He said the 59 civilians, mostly children, women and the elderly, were being used as human shields.

Pro-government forces have liberated 90 per cent of Al Duraihimi city, but could not launch a last push to take over the entire city because the Iran-backed Houthis fortified the centre and took the civilians as hostages.