Yemen's Huthi rebels in possession of new arms: UN report

Members of the Huthi rebels military police parade in the streets of the capital Sanaa on January 8, 2020

Yemen's Huthi rebels are in possession of new weapons similar to those produced in Iran, according to a UN report obtained by AFP on Friday, in potential violation of a UN arms embargo.

The crisis in Yemen pits the Iranian-backed Huthi rebels against government forces supported by a Saudi-led military coalition.

Some of the new weapons, which the rebels have possessed since 2019, "have technical characteristics similar to arms manufactured in the Islamic Republic of Iran," said the report, which was compiled by a panel of UN experts tasked with monitoring the embargo.

The panel didn't say whether the weapons were delivered to the Huthis directly by the Iranian government, which has repeatedly denied sending them arms.

"In addition to the previously known weapon systems, they used a new type of Delta-design uncrewed aerial vehicle and a new model of land attack cruise missile," the document said.

The weapons, as well as commercially available parts constituting some of the weapons, potentially violated the embargo, according to the document.

The experts separately added that the Huthi rebels' claim that they carried out the attacks against two key Saudi oil installations on September 14 was "unlikely."

Several countries, including the United States, have ruled out the Huthis' ability to conduct such an attack, and instead accused Iran, which has denied involvement.

The panel additionally said that it had identified a "Huthi network involved in the repression of women who oppose the Huthis, including through the use of sexual violence."

"Violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law continued to be widely committed by all parties in Yemen with impunity," the report said.

The war in Yemen has claimed tens of thousands of lives, most of them civilians, according to non-governmental groups.

Members of the Huthi rebels military police parade in the streets of the capital Sanaa on January 8, 2020