Middle East

Yemen rebel chief praises Iran, Hezbollah

Houthi supporters rally to mark the anniversary of launching their motto (Sarkha), in which they call for the "Death of America and Israel", in Sanaa, Yemen July 13, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamed al-Sayaghi??

DUBAI: Yemen's rebel chief Friday praised Iran and its ally Hezbollah, singling out the group's leader Hassan Nasrallah for his "solidarity."

But Abdulmalik al-Houthi, whose fighters are battling Yemen's Arab-coalition backed government, again denied accusations of receiving smuggled weapons from Iran.

In a speech broadcast on the rebels' Al Masirah TV, Houthi praised "the glory and dignity of Iran" and thanked Nasrallah for "solidarity with the people of Yemen from his position of greatness."

While Iran acknowledges support for the Houthis' cause, it denies arming the rebels.

Saudi Arabia has also accused Hezbollah of sending its fighters into Yemen. The party has denied the accusations.

"The U.S., Saudi Arabia and the UAE know that talk of rockets entering Yemen from Iran through the Hodeida port are completely false," Houthi said via video link from an undisclosed location.

Yemen's government, backed by the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and their regional allies, is battling the Houthis for control of the impoverished country.

The conflict is now centered on the Red Sea city of Hudaida, home to the country's most valuable port and controlled by the Houthis.

The United Nations, which recognizes the government of President Abed Rabbou Mansour Hadi, is pushing for a truce between rival parties to avoid further civilian suffering in a country teetering on the brink of famine.

Houthi, who does not appear in public, said he had agreed to grant the U.N. "supporting logistical and technical role" in Hudaida, accusing the Arab-led coalition of rejecting the offer.

A spokesperson for the coalition did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The U.N. has not publicly commented on its talks with both parties in Yemen.

Nearly 10,000 people have been killed in Yemen since Saudi Arabia and its allies intervened in the country's civil conflict in 2015, including 2,200 children.

 

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