By Arab News
By Saeed Al-Batati
Yemen’s internationally recognized government has called for pressure to stop the Houthi offensive and siege on several villages in the southern province of Taiz, the official Saba news agency reported.
Prime Minister Maeen Abdul Malik Saeed said during a phone call with the Taiz governor, Nabil Shamsan, that Houthi crimes against civilians would be “expired by the statute of limitations.” He vowed to bring the Houthis to justice.
Malik urged the international community to condemn the attacks against civilians in Taiz and other areas across Yemen. His remarks came as local government officials and activists said on Sunday that civilian deaths from the continuing assault on Haima village in Taiz had risen to 12.
Col. Abdul Basit Al-Baher, a Yemeni army spokesperson in the city of Taiz, said the Houthis had moved on their Haima offensive for the fifth day, killing 12, wounding 30 and raiding 63 houses.
“The Houthis have launched a hysterical attack on Haima,” he told Arab News. “They have stormed more than 20 houses, taken 50 civilians as hostage and shelled the villages with heavy weapons. They are committing a cleansing against residents.” Farmers and other laborers had stayed indoors to avoid Houthi shells and checkpoints, he added.
Houthi media and affiliate accounts on social media said Sunday that the military assault on Haima came to an end after clearing the villages of “criminals and terrorists.”
But Yemeni army officials said that, in addition to capturing military officers loyal to the government, the Houthis had attacked Haima to suppress a rebellion by residents who refused to pay taxes and allow the group to establish military bases on their agricultural land.
“The Houthis cruelly assaulted the villages to be a lesson to other Yemeni areas that might think of challenging their rule,” Al-Baher said.
Yemen’s Information, Culture and Tourism Minister Muammar Al-Aryani accused the Houthis of launching a “barbaric bombardment” on residential areas in Haima, executing civilians and abusing their bodies.
“The Houthi militia is committing these crimes and violations that are more horrific than those committed by terrorist groups under the nose of deafeningly silent international community and human rights organizations,” he tweeted on Sunday.
Yemeni military experts called for intensifying army operations against the Houthis in Taiz and other areas under their control.
Military analyst Brig. Yahyia Abu Hatem said on Sunday that the Yemeni army and allied forces must march toward areas under Houthi control in Taiz to shore up residents who revolted against the militia.
“The (army) troops must move in Taiz to completely liberate the province, rescuing Haima and weaken (military) capabilities of the Houthi militia,” he tweeted.
During its second meeting in Aden, the country’s interim capital, Yemen’s new government on Sunday reiterated commitments to end the Houthi coup, restore state bodies and apply reforms to boost the economy and fight corruption, Saba reported.