Pakistan Says Saudi-Led Coalition Wants Troops

Pakistan Says Saudi-Led Coalition Wants TroopsPakistan Says Saudi-Led Coalition Wants Troops

Pakistan’s defense minister says a Saudi-led coalition targeting Shiite fighters in Yemen wants it to contribute ground troops.

The comments Monday by Defense Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif come as Pakistan’s parliament debates whether to contribute militarily to the campaign against the group, known as Houthis. Pakistan has offered its verbal support for the mission, AP reported.

Days of airstrikes have yet to dislodge the Houthis from territory they hold across Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country. That’s led to speculation that there could be a ground operation launched in Yemen.

The Saudi-led campaign entered its 12th day Monday, targeting the Houthi militias who took over the capital, Sanaa, in September and eventually forced President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi to flee.

  Red Cross Aid

The Red Cross hopes to bring vital medical supplies and aid workers into Yemen after receiving approval from a Saudi-led military coalition battling Houthis, who pushed deeper into the southern city of Aden on Sunday, France 24 reported.

After nearly a week of negotiations to deliver life-saving supplies and equipment to Yemen, where the coalition has conducted 11 days of air strikes against Shiite Houthis, the International Committee of the Red Cross now hopes to enter the country on Monday, ICRC spokeswoman Sitara Jabeen told Reuters.

“We have received permission from the coalition for two planes now, one carrying supplies and one with staff,” she said.

In Riyadh, a spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition said arrangements had been made for at least one Red Cross aid delivery on Sunday morning, but the ICRC had pulled out of the arrangement.

The coalition says it has set up a special coordination body for aid deliveries and asked NGOs and governments to work with it to ensure humanitarian aid can be brought into Yemen and foreign nationals can be evacuated safely.

The ICRC deploys 300 aid workers, including foreigners, in Yemen, the Arabian Peninsula’s poorest country. On Saturday it called for a 24-hour humanitarian pause in the conflict to allow aid to reach people cut off by air strikes and to save the lives of “streams of wounded”.

The aid agency plans to land the aircraft in the capital Sanaa, said Jabeen. However, it was still awaiting approval for an ICRC surgical team it plans to bring by boat into Aden, where fighting remains intense.

  Houthis Advance in Aden

On Sunday, the Houthi fighters advanced into the city’s central port district of Mualla, capturing the provincial government headquarters, a local official said.

Mualla is defended by “popular committees” militiamen loyal to President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who has fled to neighboring Saudi Arabia.

Violence has escalated sharply in the deeply tribal country on the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula since the coalition launched Operation Decisive Storm against the Houthi fighters on March 26.

The United Nations said on Thursday that more than 500 people had been killed in two weeks of fighting in Yemen.