Yemen rebels bury fighters killed in US, UK strikes

AFP , Monday 3 Jun 2024

Yemen's Iran-backed Houthis on Monday held a public funeral in the capital Sanaa for more than a dozen fighters they say were killed in US and British strikes last week.

Yemeni honour guards carry coffins of casualties of recent strikes by US and British forces, during a funeral ceremony at Al-Saleh mosque in the Houthi-run capital Sanaa. AFP


The rebels had provided a death toll of 16 for the strikes overnight into Friday, which would make them among the deadliest since the United States and Britain launched a campaign in January to deter Houthi attacks on ships in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.

The Houthis, who control much of Yemen, have been harassing commercial vessels in the busy shipping lane since November, actions they say are in solidarity with Palestinians amid the Israeli war in the Gaza Strip.

An AFP correspondent in Sanaa said more than a dozen fighters were laid to rest on Monday, including nine members of the Houthi naval force.

Hundreds gathered outside the capital's Al-Shaab Mosque where mourners carried coffins and pictures of the dead as Houthi fighters dressed in blue ceremonial garb staged a military parade.

"My message to US and Israel... and those coordinating with them, is what you have done in Gaza and Yemen, we won't forget," said Ahmed Abdulatif, a relative of one of the dead fighters.

"We won't forget how many women and babies you have killed," he told AFP.

The US military's Central Command said 13 Houthi facilities were targeted in Friday's strikes.

The British defence ministry said the attacks targeted "buildings identified as housing drone ground control facilities and providing storage for very long range drones, as well as surface to air weapons".

The reprisals have not put a stop to the campaign by the rebels, who have vowed to target US and British vessels as well as all ships heading to Israeli ports.

On Friday, the Houthis threatened to step up their attacks on Red Sea shipping in response to the latest deadly strikes.

"We will not back down," Ahmad Al-Bashri, deputy governor of rebel-held Hodeida, told AFP at the funeral.

"We tell the Americans: not only do we reserve the right to respond, but also that a response is coming."

The Houthi attacks have forced commercial vessels to divert from the shipping route, which normally carries about 12 percent of global trade.

In February, the Houthis held a mass funeral for 17 fighters they say were killed in US and British strikes.

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