Yemen’s Navy Captures French Vessel Laden with Foreign Mercenaries

HODEIDA, YEMEN — Yemen’s Navy, loyal to the Houthi government, captured a French naval vessel, the M/Y Jehol ll, off of the coast of Hodeidah on Saturday, according to statements made by senior military officials to MintPress News. The vessel, which was carrying foreign fighters, was engaged in a military landing operation near the port, according to Houthi officials, who gave no further details.

Mohammed al-Houthi, leader of the Houthi movement, tweeted: “Thanks to the Yemeni Coast Guard in Hodeida, a French or American boat was seized.” He confirmed in a later tweet that a French naval vessel named the M/Y Jehol ll was captured by Yemen’s Coast Guard near Hodeidah.

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Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdulsalam accused France and Britain of being involved in the recent attack on Hodeidah. Abdulsalam told a local television station on Saturday that “British and French warships are on standby on Yemen’s western coast to launch missile and aerial attacks.”

The French newspaper Le Figaro confirmed that France’s Special Forces are present on the ground in Yemen supporting the ongoing Saudi-led military campaign on Hodeidah. A French military source later confirmed to Reuters that French special forces are operating in Yemen.

On Friday, the French defense ministry said France was studying the possibility of carrying out a mine-sweeping operation to provide access to Hodeidah once Saudi Arabia and the UAE wrap up their military operations

A Houthi military source said in a statement to MintPress that Yemeni forces would target French, or any other foreign military vessel participating in the attack on Hodeidah, adding that “Yemen’s forces can handle any challenge posed by invading forces.”

Meanwhile, UN Special Envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, is visiting Sana’a to attempt to negotiate a Houthi transfer of the port of Hodeidah to the Saudi-UAE Coalition, a high-ranking government official told MintPress.

Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdulsalam noted, “the UN envoy’s measures are only meant to cover up the continuation of the Saudi-led war on Yemen.” Abdulsalam, who has served as the lead negotiator to Kuwait and Geneva over the past two years, stressed that if Griffiths follows his predecessor’s lead, he would fail to find a settlement to the conflict. UN envoys to Yemen have been criticized for having a heavily pro-Saudi bias. In 2017, then-UN Envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, tried to convince the Houthis to cede control of Hodeidah, their only source of imported goods – including food — in exchange for paid salaries.

Despite warnings over the potentially devastating humanitarian consequences, the Saudi-led coalition is trying to capture the port city in what is shaping up to be the biggest battle of the now-three-year-old war, causing an acute shortage of vital supplies and putting millions of Yemenis at risk.

On Saturday, World Food Programme (WFP) director for Yemen, Stephen Anderson, called for a free food flow of goods through the port city, saying “the basic needs of Hodeidah’s civilians are not being satisfied.”

Approximately 500 households have been displaced from their homes in Hodeidahsince June 1, according to the UN, and at least 36 displaced families have lost their livelihoods as their farms were damaged in airstrikes by Saudi-led coalition earlier this month.

Top Photo | A Houthi fighter walks through the Red Sea port of Hodeidah on May 10, 2017. Abdul Jabbar Zeyad | Reuters

Ahmed AbdulKareem is a Yemeni journalist. He covers the war in Yemen for MintPress News as well as local Yemeni media.

The post Yemen’s Navy Captures French Vessel Laden with Foreign Mercenaries appeared first on MintPress News.

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