Yemen FM calls for military coalition to send ground troops
“Yes I’m calling for this (ground forces) because I think at some stage air strikes will be ineffective.
Riyadh - Yemen’s foreign minister called Wednesday for a Saudi-led military coalition targeting rebels in his country to send ground troops.
“Yes I’m calling for this (ground forces) because I think at some stage air strikes will be ineffective,” Riyadh Yassin told AFP during an interview in the Saudi capital where he has taken refuge along with President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.
His appeal coincided with warnings from aid groups about a brewing humanitarian crisis and civilian casualties in Yemen, where the coalition began air strikes a week ago.
Yassin said ground forces would cause “less civilian casualties” but added that the main reason he was proposing a land operation was to enable aid deliveries.
“I am suggesting to start as soon as possible,” he added.
“We don’t have a safe place from where they can operate,” he said of the aid groups.
No need yet for ground troops in Yemen, Saudi says
Earlier today, the spokesman for a Saudi-led coalition which has conducted six days of air strikes against militia rebels said on Tuesda, said there was no need yet for ground troops in Yemen, .
“So far there is no need for land intervention,” Brigadier General Ahmed Assiri told reporters, adding the need might arise “at any time”.
Saudi Arabia accuses Iran of backing the Houthis, who seized power in Yemen’s capital Sanaa in February, forcing President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi to flee to the port city of Aden.
He arrived in Riyadh last week after the rebels advanced on Aden, raising Saudi fears they would seize control of the entire country and take it into Iran’s orbit.
But Assiri said air strikes north of Aden aim to block movement of the militia and their allies towards the southern city.
Similar operations in the country’s north seek to “deny them to move toward the Saudi border,” he added.
Naval vessels are blockading sea routes.
Aid agencies said on Tuesday they could not get assistance into the country on Saudi Arabia’s southern frontier.
The closure of Yemen’s international airports, and restrictions on seaports, are hampering delivery, Doctors Without Borders said.
Saudi Arabia welcomes all kinds of assistance for Yemen’s needy, Assiri said, but it has to go through “diplomatic channels”.
He said the movement of aid needs to be coordinated with the military “to make sure that we don’t have any mistakes or any misunderstandings concerning the movement in the ports or airports or through the Saudi border.”
Amnesty International said at least six civilians, including four children, had burned to death in air strikes on Tuesday morning in Ibb, central Yemen.
The London-based watchdog accused the coalition of “turning a blind eye” to civilian deaths.
Assiri reiterated accusations that the militia, who are “under pressure”, have moved forces into villages but he said the coalition does not intend to kill civilians.
“Collateral damage can happen... but I confirm to you that the coalition takes all care”, he said.
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