Al Houthis intensify crackdown on activists

Eight people sentenced to death on espionage charges amid Al Houthi setbacks on the battlefield

Al Mukalla: A court managed by the Iran-backed Al Houthis has sentenced eight people to death on espionage charges as the miltiants suffer setbacks on battlefield.

The Al Houthi controlled state-run Saba news agency reported on Wednesday Socialised Criminal Court in Sana’a handed down the death penalty to the eight people after accusing them of sending military information and locations of Al Houthi militants to military officers from the Saudi-led coalition.

The defendants had been detained over the last three years.

Since taking over power in early 2015, Al Houthis have sentenced dozens of activists, journalists and other opponents to death, accusing them of collaborating with the internationally-recognised government and the Saudi-led coalition.

The Al Houthi crackdown against dissidents has escalated since December after supressing a brief military uprising led by Yemen’s ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh, whom they assassinated.

The repressive measures have prompted hundreds of people to flee to government-controlled areas or go into exile.

Meanwhile, on the battlefield, government forces have achieved new gains in the region of Al Shareja on the borders of Taiz and Lahj provinces.

The state-run Saba news agency said government forces took control of ten locations on a strategic road leading to the town of Al Rahidah, the second largest city in the southern province of Taiz.

Backed by Saudi-led coalition airpower, government forces attacked Al Houthi militants east of Al Shareja and managed to push them from several mountainous locations and a valley in Khader district.

At least 14 Al Houthi militants were killed and three captured during the fighting as government forces seized arms and ammunition abandoned by the defeated Al Houthis.

Yemeni troops are pushing towards Al Rahidah from three directions in a bid to help ending Al Houthi siege on Taiz city, Yemen’s third largest city.

Fighter jets from the Saudi-led coalition on Wednesday and Thursday launched heavy air strikes in the province of Saada, Al Houthis’s heavily fortified bastion, in support of government forces who are fighting their way into new areas.

Fierce clashes were reported on Thursday on the southern, eastern and northern edges of Taiz, Jawf, and Haradh.

In the Saudi capital, Yemen’s president Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi met for the third time with the UN envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths who kicked off a new push to revive peace talks between Hadi’s government and Al Houthis.

Hadi repeated his government commitment to reaching a political settlement that could end more than three years of bloody conflict.

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