Yemen's Houthis deny accusation of weapons smuggling through Sanaa airport

Source: Xinhua| 2017-08-12 06:12:14|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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SANAA, Aug. 11 (Xinhua) -- Yemen's Shiite Houthi rebel group denied accusations by a Saudi-led coalition of smuggling weapons through Sanaa airport, ensuring the airport's safety and security management to receive all inbound flights.

The Houthis said the accusation is "baseless," and it is also baseless that the coalition concerns the "security and safety management of the civic air navigation by Sanaa airport," according to the Houthi-controlled Saba news agency.

"The Yemeni staff running the airport is of high quality and has been receiving UN inbound flights without any problem since the airport was forced to close by the coalition forces one year ago," Houthis said.

"And even before the closure of the airport, all going and coming flights were forced for inspection by the coalition forces inside the Saudi territories," they said in the statement.

According to humanitarian aid groups, the closure of the capital Sanaa airport has trapped millions of Yemenis and prevented the free movement of commercial and humanitarian goods.

The Yemeni health ministry estimated that 10,000 Yemeni patients had sought to travel abroad for medical treatment and died inside the country because of the lack of the special medical treatment of chronic diseases.

Aid groups estimated that around 20,000 Yemeni patients now were in urgent need to travel abroad for life-saving healthcare.

On Thursday, the Saudi-led coalition requested the UN to take control of the Yemeni main airport in the capital Sanaa, which is under their enemy control, accusing Houthis of smuggling weapons through it.

In response, the UN dismissed the coalition's call, saying the parties to the conflict have the responsibility to ensure the protection of civilians and their access to humanitarian relief, including through the use of airspace and airport.

The airspace over Yemen has been under control of the Saudi-led coalition forces since the war erupted in 2015. The coalition forced the closure of Sanaa airport in 2016.

The coalition began the military air campaign in March 2015 to roll back Houthi gains and reinstate exiled President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi and his government to the power.

The coalition also imposed air and sea blockade to prevent weapons from reaching Houthis, who had invaded the capital Sanaa militarily and seized most of the northern Yemeni provinces.

The war has killed more than 10,000 people, most of them civilians, and displaced around 3 million, according to UN agencies.

The impoverished Arab country is also suffering the world's largest cholera epidemic since April, with about 5,000 cases reported every day.