Yemen rebels call for Saudi coalition withdrawal

"We call on the aggressors to withdraw from Yemen, as the Republic of Yemen rejects aggression, siege and air embargo," tweets head of rebels’ committee.

DUBAI - Yemeni rebels Tuesday called for the full withdrawal of the Saudi-led military coalition after the UAE, a key part of that coalition, said it had begun reducing its deployment.

"We call on the aggressors to withdraw from Yemen, as the Republic of Yemen rejects aggression, siege and air embargo," tweeted Mohammed Ali al-Huthi, head of the rebels' Higher Revolutionary Committee and an influential political figure.

"Withdrawing from Yemen is the ideal decision that must be taken at this time," he added.

The coalition intervened in Yemen in March 2015 to back the internationally-recognised government against the Iran-aligned Huthi rebels, but the UAE announced on Monday that it was redeploying and reducing its troop presence in the country.

"We do have troop levels that are down for reasons that are strategic in (the Red Sea port city of) Hodeida and reasons that are tactical" in other parts of the country, a senior UAE official, who requested anonymity, told reporters.

"It is very much to do with moving from what I would call a military-first strategy to a peace-first strategy, and this is I think what we are doing."

The official however reiterated UAE's commitment to the Yemeni government and the Saudi-led coalition, saying Abu Dhabi discussed redeployment with its Saudi partner "extensively".

Yemen's rebels -- who have faced persistent coalition bombing since March 2015 that has exacted a heavy civilian death toll -- have stepped up missile and drone attacks across the Saudi border in recent weeks.

At least one person has been killed and 56 wounded in Saudi Arabia in three such Huthi attacks since June 12, according to Saudi authorities.

Saudi Arabia has repeatedly accused Iran of supplying sophisticated weapons to the Huthis, a charge Tehran denies.

Meanwhile a Huthi-run court on Tuesday sentenced 30 academics, trade unionists and preachers to death for allegedly spying for the Saudi-led coalition, a judicial source said.

The men, among 36 defendants tried by the criminal court in the rebel-held capital Sanaa, have been in custody for the past year, the source said.

"The criminal court today (Tuesday) issued a verdict condemning 30 people to death on charges of spying for the aggression countries," the source said, adding that the other six were acquitted.

He said the men were convicted of supplying the coalition with information on locations for air strikes.

Since the Huthis took control of Sanaa in September 2014, their courts have issued several death sentences for spying.

In May last year, a Sanaa court sentenced two men to death for spying for Riyadh, while in January, the same court condemned to death 22-year old mother Asmaa al-Omeissy and two men on charges of aiding the United Arab Emirates, a key partner in the coalition.

The sentences have not been carried out.

Yemen's conflict has killed tens of thousands of people, many of them civilians, relief agencies say, and sparked what the UN terms the world's worst humanitarian crisis, with millions displaced and in need of aid.