Crown Prince Sultan visits armed forces in Jazan, donates 50 million rials

Prince Sultan: Saudi leaders, people believe kingdom, Yemen security is indivisible, cooperation to continue in all fields

Yemeni security source accuses Houthis of slacking on ceasefire deal items

Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Deputy Premier and Minister of Defense and Aviation and Inspector-General, this afternoon made an inspection tour of the armed forces stationed on the southern border of Jazan region.

Upon arrival to the venue accompanied by Prince Mohammed bin Nasser bin Abdulaziz, Governor of Jazan Region, the Crown Prince was received by Prince Khalid bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz, Assistant Minister of Defense and Aviation and Inspector General for Military Affairs and Supervisor General of the Operations' Theater; Major General Khalid bin Bandar bin Abdulaziz, Deputy Commander of Land Forces, Chief of General Staff Lt. General Saleh bin Ali Al-Mahyia; Commander of Southern Region Major-General Ali bin Zaid Khawaji, and Commander of Jazan Force Major General Hussein Bin Mohammed Al Mallawi.

Immediately after his arrival, the Crown Prince made an inspection tour by an open vehicle to symbolic units of the armed forces.

Then, he returned to the venue of the ceremony where a group of officers was graced by greeting the Crown Prince.

Then, the Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz delivered a speech in which he warmly greeted the personnel of the armed forces stationed on the Kingdom' southern border, saying that 'I greet every man of you and I came here today to share with you your victory, which you have achieved first due to Allah Almighty, and then due to your brave, bold, sincerity and dedication to your commander, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, to whom you abided by his orders, and implemented utterly his directives, as set out by him'.

'I am, on behalf of all of you, extending our highest appreciation and deepest congratulations to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, the Supreme Commander of all military forces for what has been achieved during the military operations that you have implemented and crowned by the visit of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques to you', the Crown Prince added.

The Crown Prince Sultan also made clear that What happened on the Kingdom' Southern Border was unfortunate, saying 'we did not seek or wish such things to be happened because what binds us with fraternal Yemen are common elements, shared history, one blood and one destiny'.

He commended the deep-rooted relations between the two countries which no body can hurt or harm them.

Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud also stressed that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia under the leadership of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, wishes all best, good and pride to dear Yemen and its fraternal people for the security of the two countries is indivisible.

He also lauded the modern and heroic military abilities and good planning used by the bold armed forces to counter such complex mountainous military operations which ended in driving out the intruders and aggressors, highlighting the martyrs and wounded of the armed forces who were heroes opened their hearts and offered their bodies to be a solid shield for a nation proud of them.

Concluding his speech, the Crown Prince reiterated that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, will by Allah willing, remain strong and tough against its enemies and whoever attempts to prejudice an inch of its territory.

Then, he announced a contribution of 50 million riyals to the armed forces stationed on the southern border region of Jazan.

The Crown Prince graced a lunch party held in honor of him before departing the venue.

The ceremony and luncheon were attended by a number of princes and senior civilian and military officials.

In Sana’a, Yemeni security agencies said on Tuesday that Houthi rebels operating in north Yemen are violating the terms of a cease-fire reached in February.

Yemen launched a scorched-earth campaign against Houthi rebels in August, breathing life into a conflict that has simmered since 2004.

Saudi Arabia entered the fight in 2009 when Houthi rebels stormed border checkpoints.

A cease-fire reached in February appeared to hold while Yemeni authorities tackled a violent separatist uprising in the south.

A Yemeni security committee said Tuesday, however, that Houthi rebels were "putting obstacles" up against authorities monitoring the truce, the official Saba news agency reports.

"The Houthis are refusing to deliver land mines, which have been removed in some areas, to the government in order to be destroyed," the committee said.

The committee added that Houthi rebels set up new checkpoints and launched attacks on "some public and private installations" in the northern provinces.

Security officials called on Houthi rebels to recommit to the cease-fire and make way for displaced persons to return to their homes.

Relief groups in the wake of the August offensive complained the fighting was creating a humanitarian crisis in Yemen.

Yemen plans to free Shiite rebel prisoners within days under a truce to end a long-running war that drew in neighboring oil exporter Saudi Arabia last year, a government official said on Thursday.

Yemeni Shiite rebels had freed at least 170 government soldiers and tribal fighters on Wednesday, a day after Sana’a accused them of dragging their feet on implementing a slow-going truce deal to end a northern war, both sides said.

"The Ministry of Interior is reviewing lists of prisoners and they are expected to be released in the coming few days," a government official told Reuters.

The official did not say how many prisoners would be freed, but independent sources said it could be several hundred.

Sana’a, struggling to stabilize a fractious country, came under heavy international pressure to end the northern war and focus on fighting al-Qaeda, whose Yemen-based arm claimed responsibility for a December attack on a U.S.-bound plane.

Western countries and neighboring Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil exporter, fear al Qaeda is exploiting instability on multiple fronts in impoverished Yemen to launch attacks in the region and beyond.

Analysts say the truce deal between the government and rebels, called Houthis after the clan name of their leader, was unlikely to last as it does not address the insurgents' complaints of discrimination by Sana’a.

Sana’a, shortly before the rebels released government prisoners, had accused the rebels of delaying implementing the ceasefire deal, saying the insurgents had returned to some positions from which they had withdrawn.

The rebels were also refusing to hand over landmines removed from the conflict zone, it said.

A rebel spokesman denied the insurgents were using delay tactics and said that it had resolved the prisoner issue on Wednesday by releasing Yemeni soldiers and tribesmen who fought alongside the state.

A military official, however, has said many more prisoners were still being held by the insurgents.

Earlier, Yemeni Houthis have released 178 prisoners they had captured during months of fighting and said they are complying with a ceasefire that ended the battles on February 12.

"Houthis led by Abdul-Malek al-Houthi turned over 178 prisoners to us in (the northern city of) Sa'ada. Officers, soldiers, and civilians will be taken to Sana'a," mediator Ali Nasser Qersha said on Tuesday.

Qersha added that the Houthis had acted after receiving assurances from Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh that their prisoners would be released.

Earlier on Tuesday, Shiite fighters in northern Yemen pledged to free soldiers they are holding within two days and said they expected that government-held prisoners would also be released.

"The prisoners of war will be freed within 48 hours and we expect our prisoners to be freed in return," Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdul-Salam said.

"This issue, once resolved, will serve the cause of peace," he stated, adding that the Shiite fighters have not dragged their feet in implementing the terms of the ceasefire.

He went on to say that the Houthis believe the army should return to its barracks in the north, but they have no objection to civil servants returning to their posts in the region.

The Yemeni government agreed to a ceasefire with the Houthi fighters on February 11, saying they hoped to put an end to a six-year war that has drawn in neighboring Saudi Arabia and diverted resources from the struggle against al-Qaeda's growing influence in the country.

President Saleh had announced that the ceasefire would take effect at midnight February 11 and that four committees would be formed to monitor compliance in the northern districts where the conflict has raged since 2004. The Houthi leader, Abdul-Malek al-Houthi, also released a statement accepting the truce.

The ceasefire terms include the dismantlement of checkpoints, the release of prisoners, and the handover of Houthi weapons.

The conflict between Sana'a and Houthi fighters in northern Yemen began in 2004. The conflict intensified in August 2009 when the Yemeni army launched Operation Scorched Earth in an attempt to crush the fighters in the northern province of Sa'ada.

Saudi forces began fighting against Yemeni Shiite resistance fighters, known as Houthis, and bombing their positions on November 4, 2009 after accusing the fighters of killing Saudi border guards.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that since 2004, up to 175,000 people have been forced to leave their homes in Sa'ada and take refuge at overcrowded camps set up by the United Nations.