World, Middle East

Rebel commander dies of ‘heart attack’: Houthis

Contradicting Houthi claims, Saudi media alleges commander was killed in ‘intelligence operation’

Mahmoud Barakat   | 17.01.2019
Rebel commander dies of ‘heart attack’: Houthis File photo


By Mohamed al-Samei

SANAA, Yemen 

Yemen’s Houthi rebel group on Thursday announced that one of its commanders had died of a "heart attack" while Saudi media said he was killed in a military operation.

Abdel-Aziz bin Habtour, leader of the Houthi administration in Sanaa, has publicly expressed condolences to the family of Ibrahim al-Shami, who had led the Houthis' air-defense forces.

Bin Habtour praised the slain commander, saying he had “defended the homeland against Saudi and Emirati aggression”.

According to the Houthi-run Saba News Agency, al-Shami died after suffering a heart attack.

Saudi Arabia’s Al-Arabiya television channel, however, said the rebel commander had been killed in an "intelligence operation" carried out by a Saudi-led coalition that has been fighting the Houthis since 2015.

"Multiple sources in Sanaa confirm that al-Shami died under mysterious circumstances," the broadcaster claimed.

It added: "The body of al-Shami, who had been responsible for launching ballistic missiles and drones, was covertly taken to a hospital in Sanaa.”

Claims made by both sides have yet to be independently verified.

On Sunday, Mohamed Saleh Tammah, head of Yemen’s military intelligence apparatus, succumbed to injuries sustained last week in a Houthi drone attack.

One week ago, four Yemeni soldiers were killed and 10 others injured -- including high-ranking officers -- in a Houthi drone attack in the southern Lahij province.

Since 2015, Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies have waged a massive military campaign against the Houthis, who had overrun much of Yemen -- including capital Sanaa -- one year earlier.

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