Houthis show little regard for civilian lives, activists say

By Nabil Abdullah al-Tamimi in Aden


A recent report by the Yemeni Network for Rights and Freedoms has found that between January 1st, 2015 and August 30th, 2019 the Houthis had recruited 12,341 children under the age of 14 into the militia's ranks. [Photo via the Yemeni Network for Rights and Freedoms' Twitter]

Yemeni activists and officials have accused the Iran-backed Houthis (Ansarallah) of deliberately targeting residential districts in government-controlled areas in order to intimidate and subjugate the civilian population.

On September 21st, the Houthis fired 15 tank shells at residential districts in Taez province from the Tabbah Sofitel area, killing one woman and injuring 11 civilians, including four children, local media reported.

"The Houthis are bent on engaging in terrorism and committing crimes against civilians, the latest of which was the targeting of residential districts in the city of Taez," said Yemeni army spokesman Brig. Gen. Abdo Majali.

"These are war crimes that will not go unpunished," he said.

He condemned the Houthis' firing of artillery and tank shells at residential districts, noting that these attacks had been carried out in a "deliberate and systematic" manner.

In a September 26th incident, the Houthis fired mortar shells at a civilian home in al-Hodeidah province's al-Rabsa district.

Two girls, Maram, 15, and Dalia, 8, were killed in the attack, and their mother and two sisters were injured, said lawyer and activist Abdul Rahman Barman.

These types of crimes are "human tragedies", he told Al-Mashareq, denouncing the Houthis for their targeting of innocent civilians.

He described the attacks as "war crimes" that are in "complete conflict with the UN Charter and international treaties".

In a report issued September 27th, the Yemeni Network for Rights and Freedoms said it had recorded 65,971 violations the Houthis had committed against children between January 1st, 2015 and August 30th, 2019.

According to the report, 3,888 children were killed during this period of time, among them 79 infants, in attacks carried out by the Houthis in 17 provinces.

The report also documented that 656 children had been killed in Houthi shelling of residential districts with all kinds of ordnance, including "howitzer artillery shells, Katyusha rockets, mortar shells and tank shells".

During the same period, the militia recruited 12,341 children under the age of 14 into its ranks, the report said.

Intimidating civilians

"Targeting civilians in government-controlled areas aims to harm and intimidate the residents of those areas and render them helpless," political analyst Faisal Ahmed told Al-Mashareq.

He accused the Houthis of deliberately targeting civilians, including children, describing the militia as a "gang" working in service of Iran's interests.

The Houthis "do not recognise human rights in peace or war, and apply their own law, in order to achieve Iran's interests in the region", he said.

"The Iran-backed Houthis' targeting of residential districts is part of its culture of intimidation that aims to cause residents to flee and leave the areas they are targeting," said Deputy Minister of Human Rights Nabil Abdul Hafeez.

Through these actions, the Houthis seek to terrorise civilians and ensure residential areas "do not become a resistance force" against them, he told Al-Mashareq.

He accused the Houthis of violating all international conventions and covenants that specify the rules of engagement in conflict.

They "are brushing aside all international, religious, social and tribal norms", he said, in favour of "pursuing their own path that is based on looting, plunder, terrorism and extremism".

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These are just lies, defamation and falsification; Houthis are more honourable than the mercenaries.