Arab Coalition destroys four Houthi drones in Yemeni airspace

Attack comes as Iran plans to hold talks with Saudi Arabia in Iraq

A picture taken on August 29, 2021, shows the damage at the Al-Anad airbase, some 60 kilometres (40 miles) north of Yemen's second city Aden, after it was reportedly targeted by Houthi rebels. AFP

The Arab Coalition on Wednesday intercepted and destroyed four explosive-laden drones launched in less than 24 hours by Iran-backed Houthi militias, coalition spokesman Brig Gen Turki Al Malki said.

He said the “hostile escalation by the Houthi militia attempts to target civilians” and that coalition forces will take measures to protect civilians from such attacks.

The attacks came a day after eight people were injured when Saudi forces intercepted and destroyed two weaponised Houthi drones targeting Abha International Airport, and a ballistic missile targeting the city of Najran on Tuesday.

“A second attempt to target travelling civilians and staff at Abha International Airport by the terrorist, Iran-backed Houthi militia using a bomb-laden drone was thwarted,” Brig Gen Al Malki said.

Shrapnel from the drones caused injuries and damage to a civilian aircraft but flights resumed later that evening.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned the attack and said Saudi Arabia has endured more than 240 attacks from the Houthis since the beginning of the year and that these also endanger 70,000 American citizens living in the kingdom.

“We again call on the Houthis to uphold a ceasefire and engage in negotiations under UN auspices. This costly, stalemated offensive is exacerbating Yemen’s humanitarian crisis. The Houthi attacks are perpetuating the conflict, prolonging the suffering of the Yemeni people, and jeopardising peace efforts at a critical moment,” he said.

Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi militia have launched attacks against airports, military installations and critical oil infrastructure in Saudi Arabia since 2015.

Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Yemen, Mohammed Al Jaber, on Thursday held talks with US officials in efforts to achieve peace and discussed the kingdom’s support for Yemen in various fields, including the grant of oil derivatives and King Salman Centre for Relief and Humanitarian Work's humanitarian efforts and continuous provision of aid to the people of Yemen.

Saudi Arabia is reported to have been in talks with Iran since May this year, in an attempt to defuse tensions and put an end to Yemen's protracted war.

Iran and Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic ties in 2016 but the formation of Iran's new government under President Ebrahim Raisi, who was sworn in on August 5, could help to improve ties between the two countries.

Iraj Masjedi, Iran's ambassador to Iraq, on Tuesday said Iran plans to hold a fourth round of talks with Saudi Arabia in Iraq after the new Iranian government is set up.

“We have had three rounds of negotiations with the Saudi side, and the fourth round is to be held after the formation of a new Iranian government,” said Mr Masjedi, according to Iranian news agency Isna.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian on Tuesday said Iran and the UAE can take “big steps” in co-operation a few days after meeting with UAE Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, on the sidelines of a summit in Baghdad on Saturday.

Updated: September 02, 2021, 5:44 AM