Withdrawal of US forces will not affect Saudi Arabia's defences, coalition says

The kingdom has continued to strengthen its military ties with Washington through troop exercises

Falcon Claws 4 Maneuver Continues between Royal Saudi Land Forces and US Forces. SPA

The withdrawal of US military assets from Saudi Arabia will not affect the kingdom’s defensive capabilities, the Saudi-led coalition said on Sunday.

“We have a strong understanding with our allies about the threat in the region,” said coalition spokesperson Gen Turki Al Maliki. “We do have the capability to defend our country."

Washington strengthened its military presence in the region after an attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil infrastructure, sending three advanced anti-aircraft missile batteries to the kingdom to shore up its air defences. But the US has now begun removing the missile batteries as it seeks to ease tensions with Iran.

Saudi air defences intercepted 17 drones launched by the Iran-backed Houthi rebels on Saturday – the highest number of attacks launched towards the kingdom in a single day.

Earlier this month, the Houthis launched a drone laden with explosives that crashed into a girls’ school in Saudi Arabia’s Asir province. It did not detonate.

No injuries were reported but photos released by the Saudi Press Agency showed the school's damaged roof.

Greece announced in April that it will lend a Patriot missile battery to Saudi Arabia “to protect its critical energy infrastructure from terrorist threats”.

Even as the US withdraws troops and air defence systems from the kingdom, the two countries have continued to strengthen their military ties.

The Falcon Claws 4 training exercise between the Royal Saudi Land Forces and the US forces continued on Sunday, the Saudi Defence Ministry said.

The joint exercise began a week ago in the country’s north-west and aims to improve military co-operation, including in command and control and explosive ordnance disposal operations, SPA reported.

Meanwhile, the Yemeni military is continuing to hold back the Houthi assault on Marib province.

Yemeni army spokesman Brig Gen Mijalli on Saturday said 75 per cent of the Houthis’ combat capabilities on the outskirts of Marib have been destroyed.

He said the army has managed to achieve progress in Al Jouf Governorate by cutting off the militia group’s supply routes and recapturing territory, in addition to inflicting casualties and destroying most of their combat equipment.