Yemen: Iran-backed rebels vow to avenge death of political leader

Houthi rebels fighting the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen have pledged to bring down the coalition after the rebel group’s political leader and second in command was killed last week.

“This crime will not pass without punishment; neither this nor other crimes like the targeting of a wedding in Hajjah province that left dozens dead or injured,” Abdul Malik al-Houthi, the leader of the Shia rebel group said in a speech aired on the rebel group-linked TV channel.

Saleh al-Samad, leader of the Houthis’ established administration in northern Yemen was, according to the rebel group, killed Thursday in an air strike carried out by the Saudi-led coalition.

He is number two behind Malik al-Houthi and both are wanted by the coalition. His head was priced $20 million. The rebel leader was killed in the eastern province of Hodeidah near the Red sea.

Al-Samad early this month, dubbed 2018 “the year of ballistic excellence”, in reference to the series of missiles the rebel group has launched across the border into Saudi Arabia, The New Arab reports.

Al-Samad is the top senior official of the rebel group to have been killed in the three-year conflict, which has made over 10,000 victims.

His death is a major blow to Iran’s proxy. The rebel group took control of capital Sanaa in 2015 flashing out President Mansour Hadi and his government from second city Aden.

Hadi-aligned groups have welcomed al-Samad’s death. Hadi’s exiled government pointed out that Samad’s death sends a clear message to Houthi leaders that “Iranian terrorism” will lead to their demise.

“Samad’s death is a rejection of the coup and a victory to the country. In his last days, Samad visited several provinces, inciting for war and destruction, calling for the targeting of the Red Sea and international water passages,” said Rageh Badi, the government spokesman.

Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (UAE) have been propping up Hadi’s force to take back territories from the rebels who are receiving technical support from Iran.

The rebel supreme council has chosen Mahdi al-Mashat to replace Al-Samad. The new pick was Abdul Malik al-Houthi’s representative.

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