Saudi military shoots down explosive drone amid Houthi propaganda campaign

Iran-backed rebels have suffered heavy losses near northern Yemeni government stronghold of Marib

epa09178119 A fighter loyal to Yemen's Saudi-backed government takes position during the fight against Houthi militiamen in the northeastern province of Marib, Yemen, 11 April 2021 (issued 05 May 2021). The offensive by Yemen's Houthi rebels to take Marib city, the last government-held province in the country's north, is facing an increasingly heavy resistance. Government forces and allied tribal fighters stationed in and around the capital city of the oil-rich province of Marib have so far managed to stop the rebels' advance further into the city of around three million inhabitants, and located around 190 kilometer east of Sanaa.  EPA/STRINGER
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The Saudi-led coalition in Yemen said early on Sunday it had destroyed an explosives-laden drone launched by the Houthi militia towards Khamis Mushait in the kingdom's south-west, Al Ekhbariya TV reported.

Houthis use propeller-driven explosive drones to attack civilian infrastructure in Saudi Arabia.

Drones such as the Ababil are made from Iranian parts and based on Iranian designs.

They are regularly intercepted by Saudi F-15 jets or Patriot missile systems.

Houthi military spokesman Yahya Saree said in a tweet early on Sunday that explosive drones were aimed at Saudi Arabia's King Khalid Airbase in Khamis Mushait.

Meanwhile, the Iran-backed rebels tried to demoralise troops by staging a fake incursion into Saudi territory, said coalition spokesman Brig Gen Turki Al Malki.

The coalition in Yemen dismissed as "fabricated" video released by the Houthis on Sunday.

"Claims by the Houthi militia about executing a military operation on the Jazan border are media fabrications," said Brig Gen Al Malki told Saudi state TV.

He said "imaginary victories" were intended to cover up major military losses suffered by the rebels in Yemen's Marib and Al Jawf regions.

After advancing around the ancient northern city of Marib this year, the Houthis have suffered heavy losses under Saudi air power.

Yemen's war, which entered its seventh year in March, has been in a military stalemate for years with the Houthis holding most of northern Yemen.

The Saudi-led coalition intervened at the request of the internationally recognised government to help restore it.

The rebels rejected a ceasefire proposal put forward by Saudi Arabia in March.

Martin Griffiths, the UN special envoy for Yemen, said he met chief Houthi negotiator Mohammed Abdul-Salam in Oman’s capital of Muscat on Thursday.

Mr Griffiths said they discussed UN plans to reopen the Yemeni capital Sanaa's international airport the port of Hodeidah, and a ceasefire to relaunch negotiations.

He urged the warring sides to “seize this opportunity and make a breakthrough towards resolving the conflict”.