SANA’A (Dispatches) – Yemeni officials say the United States is fanning the flames of violence in the embattled southern province of al-Bayda by mobilizing and commanding al-Qaeda and Daesh terrorists against the Yemeni army and allied popular forces, who have been defending the region against Saudi-led militants.
“The United States, which falsely and wrongly claims to be concerned with peace in Yemen, is fueling bitter clashes in the Az Zahir district of the province,” Russia’s RT Arabic television news network quoted Yemeni Information Minister Dhaifullah al-Shami as saying on Tuesday.
Over the past days, militants led by the Saudi-led coalition waging war on Yemen have been engaged in a push to capture Bayda Province from the Yemeni army.
Shami also said, “The bogus peace motto, behind which countries of aggression led by the United States are hiding, is nothing but a ploy, and is meant to advance their agenda of suppressing and controlling Yemeni people.”
He added said that the developments unfolding in Yemen show the Saudi-led coalition is aiding and abetting al-Qaeda and Daesh terrorists, who are perpetrating various criminal acts across Yemen and al-Bayda Province, in particular.
“The escalation of tensions in Bayda comes at a time when aggressors are accusing the Sana’a government of obstructing the peace process. It is an absolute scandal,” the Yemeni information minister pointed out.
According to other reports, a shadowy unit of British troops has reportedly been providing on-site training and support to Saudi forces in Yemen, bringing fresh scrutiny to the official UK claim of ‘not being party’ to the ongoing conflict in the country.
For months, some 30 soldiers have been stationed at the coalition-occupied Al-Ghaydah airport in the restive Eastern province of Mahra, according to news outlet Declassified UK.
“The tasks assigned to them so far are military training and logistical support, either for Saudi forces or Saudi-backed militia that are elements from the (so-called) Southern Transitional Council,” Hameed Zaabnoot, a tribal leader who has organized ongoing mass sit-in protests against Saudi presence in Mahra, stated.
Saudi Arabia, aided by the U.S. and western and regional allies, launched a war on Yemen in March 2015 to reinstate former Yemeni president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, a close ally of Riyadh, and eliminate the popular Houthi Ansarullah movement.
The U.S.-based Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), a nonprofit conflict-research organization, estimates that the war has claimed more than 100,000 lives in Yemen.
The war has also taken a heavy toll on the country’s infrastructure, destroying hospitals, schools, and factories. The UN says over 24 million Yemenis are in dire need of humanitarian aid, including 10 million suffering from extreme levels of hunger.
In another development, a local court in the Yemeni capital has handed down death sentences to five individuals found guilty of spying for the British intelligence service MI6 as well as perpetrating acts of sabotage in the war-ravaged Arab country.
According to Yemeni news agency Saba, the five defendants were given the capital punishment by a high-level bench headed by Justice Mohammad Mofleh on Tuesday, following a trial that lasted several months.
The five convicts include Arafat Qasim Abdullah Al-Hashidi, Ali Mohammad Abdullah Al-Jamani, Ali al-Khwarijah, Salim Abdullah Yahya Habish and leader of the espionage ring, Aman Mujahid.
Another accused in the case, Mohammad Sharaf Ghaed Harish, was sentenced to five years in prison and asked not to disturb the security.
The six accused had in February been found guilty of espionage for the British spy agency by recruiting and training people in a number of Yemeni provinces, including Sana’a, Imran, Saada, al-Jawf, Ma’rib, al-Mahrah and Hadhramaut.
The court said the British spy agency carried out acts of espionage and sabotage on the Yemeni soil through these men, equipping them with advanced communication devices for surveillance.