Houthis possess arms ‘similar’ to those made in Iran: UN report

UN panel does not say whether weapons were delivered to rebels directly by Tehran, which denies sending them arms.

Houthi followers hold their guns during a tribal gathering against the continued war and blockade on October 03, 2019 in Sana''a, Yemen. (Photo by Mohammed Hamoud/Getty Images)
The conflict in Yemen began with the 2014 takeover of the capital, Sanaa, by Houthi rebels [File: Mohammed Hamoud/Getty]

Houthi rebels in war-torn Yemen are in possession of weapons similar to those produced in Iran, according to a new United Nations report seen by the AFP news agency on Friday.

Some of the new weapons that the rebels have acquired in 2019 “have technical characteristics similar to arms manufactured in the Islamic Republic of Iran”, said the report compiled by a panel of experts tasked with monitoring an arms embargo on the country.

The panel did not say whether the weapons were delivered to the Houthis directly by the Iranian government, which has repeatedly denied sending them arms.

“In addition to the previously known weapon systems, they used a new type of Delta-design uncrewed aerial vehicle and a new model of land attack cruise missile,” the document said.

The weapons, as well as commercially available parts constituting some of the weapons, potentially violated the embargo, it added.

The conflict in Yemen began with the 2014 takeover of the capital, Sanaa, by Houthi rebels, who also seized control of much of the country’s north.

In March 2015, a Saudi-UAE-led military coalition backed by the United States intervened to restore the internationally-recognised government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who was forced out by the Houthis.

In the report, the experts separately said the Houthis’ claim that they were behind a September 14 attack against two major oil installations in Saudi Arabia was “unlikely”.

Several countries, including the United States, have ruled out the Houthis’ ability to conduct such an attack, and instead accused Iran, which has denied involvement.

The panel additionally said it had identified a “Houthi network involved in the repression of women who oppose the Houthis, including through the use of sexual violence”.

“Violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law continued to be widely committed by all parties in Yemen with impunity,” the report said.

The war in Yemen has killed tens of thousands of people have been killed, most of them civilians, according to relief organisations. The devastating conflict has also pushed millions to the brink of famine, in what the UN calls the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.

Human rights groups have criticised the Saudi-UAE-led coalition for targeting civilians in hospitals, schools and markets, while also condemning Western countries for providing it with arms. 

In a statement on Thursday, the UN Security Council called for an immediate end to a “significant” escalation in fighting. It said a return to violence “threatens to undermine progress made during the recent period of de-escalation in Yemen”.

The council’s statement followed a briefing on Tuesday by the UN special envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, who urged a halt to the recent “alarming military escalation” in fighting “before it is too late”.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies