World, Middle East

Yemen: Houthis protest killing of Iranian, Iraqi chiefs

Houthis describe killings of Qasem Soleimani, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis as 'clear attack on all Muslims'

Halime Afra Aksoy   | 06.01.2020
Yemen: Houthis protest killing of Iranian, Iraqi chiefs FILE PHOTO

SANAA, Yemen

Yemen's Houthis on Monday protested the killings of a top Iranian general and a senior commander of Iraq's Hashd al-Shaabi forces by a U.S. drone strike, according to local media.

A crowd of people gathered in the capital Sanaa to protest the killing of Qasem Soleimani, commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards' Quds Forces, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, vice president of the Hashd al-Shaabi group, or Popular Mobilization Units (PMU).

Protestors hung photos of Soleimani while chanting anti-U.S. slogans, according to the Beirut-based Yemeni Al Masirah TV channel, aligned with Houthi rebels in the country.

The Iranian-backed Houthi movement described in a statement the killings of Soleimani and al-Muhandis as "a clear attack on all Muslims".

It also said that revenge for both leaders would be taken from the U.S.

Soleimani and Muhandis were killed in a U.S. drone airstrike outside Baghdad airport on Friday.

Soleimani's death marked a dramatic escalation in tensions between the U.S. and Iran, which have often been at a fever pitch since President Donald Trump chose in 2018 to unilaterally withdraw Washington from a 2015 nuclear pact world powers struck with Tehran.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who gave Soleimani the country's highest honor last year, vowed "severe retaliation" in response to his killing.

Soleimani was the long-time commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards' elite Quds Force, which is designated a terror group by the U.S. The group is estimated to have 20,000 members.

Yemen has been beset by violence and chaos since 2014 when Houthi rebels overran much of the country, including the capital Sanaa.

The crisis escalated in 2015 when a Saudi-led military coalition launched a devastating air campaign aimed at rolling back Houthi territorial gains.

Saudi Arabia and its allies accuse the Houthis of being a proxy to Iran.

Since then, tens of thousands of Yemenis, including numerous civilians, are believed to have been killed and injured in the conflict, while another 14 million are at risk of starvation, according to the UN.

* Writing by Gozde Bayar

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