Report: Yemen Houthis fighting for Assad in Syria

Houthi rebels arrive in Syria through Hezbollah camps in Lebanon.

May 31, 2013 09:54
1 minute read.
Yemen's al-Houthi Shi'ite fighters [file].

Yemen's al-Houthi Shi'ite fighters 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Mohamed al-Sayaghi)

Yemen Shi’ite Houthi rebels are fighting alongside regime forces in Syria, the London-based Asharq Al- Awsat reported on Thursday.

Hundreds of Houthi rebels are fighting in Syria and they view the fighting there as a “holy jihad,” a Yemeni official told the paper. They first travel to Hezbollah camps in Lebanon and then cross the border into Syria, he said.

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“The arrival of Houthi fighters in Syria coincided with the announcement of Hezbollah’s involvement in the fighting alongside the Syrian regime,” the official said.

The Houthis have a relationship with the Assad regime extending back before the Syrian civil war, as they would use the country as “a way-station through which they traveled to Tehran and south Lebanon for combat training,” the official said. They “would use Iranian documents to travel from Damascus so that Yemeni authorities would not know where they had been when they returned home.”

The source added that Iran was using two Eritrean islands in the Red Sea for training purposes and to store weapons for the Houthi rebels.

Last week, 200 Houthi fighters left Yemen to fight in Syria, according to the report.

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Houthis are Shi’ites from the Zaydi branch, also known as Fivers, who believe in the first five imams after Muhammad, up until the fifth, Zayd ibn Ali. Most Shi’ites are Twelvers, including the leadership of Iran.

The Houthis have been fighting a rebellion from their base in northern Yemen since 2004, with a number of cease-fires and mediation attempts.

Yemen’s government blames Iran for arming and supporting the Houthis.

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