The head of Yemen’s Shiite Huthi militia on Sunday urged his supporters to mobilise for an anti-Islamist offensive in the south of the strife-torn country.
Abdulmalik al-Huthi, in a speech broadcast by his militia’s Al-Masirah television channel, also appeared to reject dialogue.
He urged “the great people of Yemen” to mobilise and enrol for military training with his fighters, who in February seized control of state institutions in Sanaa after having swept down from their mountain strongholds north of the capital.
“Al-Qaeda and Daesh must not be allowed to find refuge in any region” in Yemen, he said, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group, which claimed responsibility for bombings of Huthi mosques on Friday that killed more than 140 people.
“All political forces which support Al-Qaeda will be in the firing line,” he added, stressing at the same time that residents of southern Yemen were not targets.
His speech came as Huthi fighters and their allies seized the airport in Taez, a city just 180 kilometres (110 miles) north of Aden.
Huthi also condemned President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, who has fled to the southern port city of Aden, as “a puppet in the hands of forces of evil, led by the United States” in carrying out a plot financed by Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
He threatened to withdraw from UN-brokered dialogue between Yemen’s multiple rivals and implicitly rejected a Saudi offer to host talks.
“Dialogue cannot go on for ever. It’s a charade,” he said.
“Any dialogue cannot be sponsored by a party which harbours hostility towards the Yemeni people,” said the Huthi leader, referring to the country’s powerful and oil-rich neighbour Saudi Arabia.