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Turkey condemns Yemen's Houthis for demolishing Ottoman soldier memorial

Footage circulated on social media showed a bulldozer demolishing part of an obelisk-shaped memorial in the capital Sanaa
The view of the damaged memorial at Sanaa Turkish Memorial Cemetery in the Yemeni capital Sanaa, 12 March 2022 (AFP)

Turkey has condemned Yemen's Houthi rebels for attempting to raze a memorial in a cemetery dedicated to Turkish soldiers in Sanaa city, calling it a "treacherous attack".

Footage circulating on social media showed a bulldozer demolishing part of an obelisk-shaped memorial over the weekend, while other footage showed debris scattered around the site.

Sanaa Turkish Memorial Cemetery was officially inaugurated by Turkey's former president Abdullah Gul in 2011 to commemorate Turkish soldiers who fell during the 400 years of Ottoman rule in Yemen.

The memorial lies south of Sanaa's old city, close to Yemen's Ministry of Defence headquarters.

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Hussein al-Ezzi, the Houthis' deputy foreign minister, tweeted on Saturday that the act of demolishing was routine and that such demolitions "normally occur in all countries and in every time and place".

However, Turkey's Foreign Ministry condemned the memorial demolition on Saturday, stating: "The Turkish legacy in Yemen is a symbol of the shared history and deep-rooted relations with it."

The ministry added that "disrespect for it [the memorial] is unacceptable".

The ministry called for the Houthis to repair the damage caused to the memorial and punish the perpetrators.

Ezzi tweeted that the memorial suffered from "technical deficiencies" that engineers had not noticed during construction.

"No one should be upset about the demolition of this monument because it is in fact unnecessary," he added.

"It reminds of the negative side of the history of the two brotherly peoples, which is the side of blood, wars and great pain."

"On the other hand, it provokes the feelings of the generous Yemeni families who sacrificed for their country in that era of history," he tweeted, suggesting the memorial be replaced with "beautiful alternatives".

Sanaa fell under Houthi rule in 2014, and since then the Houthis have been locked into a war with Yemen's internationally recognised government, which is backed by Saudi Arabia.

In February 2021, US President Joe Biden's administration removed the group from the terrorist list and pulled Washington's support for offensive military operations in the Saudi-led coalition's war in Yemen.

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