Yemeni official: Houthis recruiting African fighters

A Houthi militant carries his weapon during the funerals of Lutf al-Quhum, a prominent pro-Houthi religious singer, and a Houthi fighter, in Yemen's capital Sanaa, February 18, 2016.

A Houthi militant carries his weapon during the funerals of Lutf al-Quhum, a prominent pro-Houthi religious singer, and a Houthi fighter, in Yemen’s capital Sanaa, February 18, 2016.


A top military Yemeni official said the Iran-backed Houthi militias and their ally’s forces have started recruiting “mercenaries,” coming mostly from African countries, Al Arabiya News Channel reported Monday.

Deputy Chief of Staff Gen. Nasir al-Tahiri said the move by the Houthis and forces allied to to the toppled Ali Abdullah Saleh was to buttress their weakening fronts at the capital Sanaa and the northwestern governorate of Saada.

Meanwhile, military sources said Saleh has ordered Republican Guards forces to withdraw from central al-Baydha, southwestern Ibb and Dhammar (west of al-Baydaha) to be consolidated in Sanaa as battles heat up.

It is not the first time that an abroad force is helping with the militias in Yemen.

Last week, the internationally recognized Yemeni government said it has evidence that the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah is backing the Houthi militia group.

President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi’s internationally recognized government has declared Aden the country’s provisional capital after the Houthis and their allies drove it out of Sanaa and much of northern Yemen since September 2014.

The rebels controlled Aden for months before government loyalists pushed them out in July.

Because of the unrest gripping Aden, Hadi himself and many senior officials in his government spend most of their time in Riyadh, which has led an anti-rebel coalition since March 26 last year.


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