World Bulletin / News Desk
Major combat in Yemen is nearing an end but the country will need long-term support from the Saudi-led coalition to secure its institutions, the coalition spokesman said on Wednesday.
Brigadier General Ahmed al-Assiri also said that fighting has essentially stopped along the border, where demining has begun in an effort to assist aid flows.
Saudi Arabia and several of its Sunni Arab allies began air strikes on March 26 last year against Iran-backed Huthi rebels and their allies, elite troops loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.
"In any military campaign you have phases," Assiri said.
"Today we are in the end of the major combat phase," which must be followed by security stabilisation and finally reconstruction.
He said the Saudi-led coalition had learnt from the United States which pulled combat troops from Iraq and Afghanistan before the countries were stable.
Nor does the coalition want to follow the example of Libya, where Western forces helped topple dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011 and then left it to slide into chaos.
"We don't want that Yemen becomes another Libya, so we have to support the government, go with them step by step until they bring peace and security and stability for the people," Assiri said.
He said that in areas retaken from rebels, fighters get training and equipment to join Yemen's army, "but it takes time".
The coalition intervened on behalf of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi after the Huthis, a Zaidi Shiite group from Yemen's north, seized control of large parts of the country including the capital Sanaa.
Backed by air strikes and other coalition support, anti-rebel forces have retaken areas in Yemen's south but Huthis still hold the capital.
The Huthis launched cross-border attacks against Saudi Arabia in retaliation for the intervention, with more than 90 people -- both military and civilian -- killed on the Saudi side of the frontier by shelling and in skirmishes.
Assiri said the border was essentially calm since a mediation effort by tribal leaders last week allowed aid to start moving into Yemen at the Alb crossing in Dhahran al-Janoub, northeast of Jazan city.Last Mod: 16 Mart 2016, 17:03