Yemen mediator says Dammaj fighting includes "war crime"
Government envoy blames Houthis for continuing violence
Sana'a, Asharq Al-Awsat?The ongoing violence between Houthis and Salafists around the town of Dammaj, northern Yemen, has claimed an estimated 100 victims as Houthi fighters continue to bombard the town.
Yehia Abuesbaa, head of the committee tasked by Yemeni president Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi with solving the Dammaj crisis, told Asharq Al-Awsat that "clashes continue. From time to time, we hear the bombardment of heavy weapons striking Dammaj. The presidential committee, the Red Cross, the governor of the province and the military leadership were turned away by the Houthis and were prevented from entering Dammaj for the third respective day. We made an agreement to attend to the wounded and for the Red Cross to be allowed access, in preparation for the army?s entry. However, the Houthis, for the third time, have turned us away."
"I would not describe what is happening in Saada as genocide, but I will say that preventing aid to the wounded for 21 days is a war crime," he added.
The chairman blamed the Houthis for prolonging the fighting, calling the group "uncompromising."
Local sources confirmed to Asharq Al-Awsat that there were many wounded and killed in the Houthi bombardment of Dammaj. The sources indicated that at least 100 people were killed in the bombardment over the past week.
Dammaj, in the province of Saada, has been the scene of fighting between Houthis and Salafists since the middle of last week. The Houthis, a Shi?a rebel movement, allege that the Salafists based in the town are stockpiling weapons and recruiting fighters from abroad in preparation for an attack on them.
The Salafists deny the Houthi claims, and say that the foreigners in the town are religious students.
The presidential committee assigned to deal with the crisis in Dammaj continues its mediation efforts following the collapse of the ceasefire brokered by the committee on Saturday.