ABU DHABI // The Government last night declared a three-day period of mourning, for the 45 servicemen killed in Yemen on Friday.
The General Command of the UAE Armed Forces said the personnel died while performing their national duty as part of the Saudi-led Arab coalition in support of the legitimate Yemeni government.
It is understood the men died when a rocket attack at dawn on Friday on an ammunition store for the 107th Brigade caused several explosions that resulted in the deaths of Emirati and Yemeni soldiers.
President Sheikh Khalifa mourned the brave Emirati soldiers who were killed in Marib in Yemen in defence of truth and justice, stae news agency Wam reported. The President said the men were defending the oppressed during the performance of sacred duty within the Arab coalition forces.
Hours after the attack, UAE Air Force fighter jets launched strikes on Houthi targets.
The Emirati fighter jets pounded rebel strongholds and hideouts in Al Bayda, as well as weapons caches in Mukeiras and Marib.
The aircraft also hit a mines factory in Saada as well as Republican Guard camps in Ibb and Sana’a, causing heavy losses before returning to base.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, took to Twitter to pay further tribute to the country’s fallen heroes.
“The UAE today has lost a group of its purest men, in defence of justice and in support of our brothers in Yemen.
“Our condolences [go] to the people of the UAE and the Arab nation in those brave heroes.
“May Allah have mercy on our martyrs and give us and their families patience and fortitude, I ask that they reach Paradise.”
Sheikh Mohammed said the sacrifices of the nation’s children were a source of pride and that “the days will only give us more determination and power on triumphing”.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, also paid tribute to the martyrs.
“A group of our beloved sons have ascended as martyrs on this glorious day, bringing pride and honour to the nation.
“Our sons have made the ultimate sacrifice; they’re true patriots who demonstrated utmost love and loyalty to their country and nation. Our martyrs of duty are true models in our history.”
The Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah, last night sent his sincere condolences to the President, Sheikh Khalifa, for the martyrdom of the 45 servicemen.
Egyptian president Abdel Fattah El Sisi also called Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid to offer his condolences.
Among those killed were Ali Hassan Al Shehi, a former player at Emirates Football Club, and Lt Al Yammahi, who was awarded the sword of honour in the 38th batch of graduates from Zayed Military School.
An investigation will be conducted into what caused the incident.
Dr Anwar Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, also paid tribute to the servicemen.
“We ask for God’s mercy for the martyrdom of the brave UAE soldiers. Our hero sons gave the ultimate sacrifice for their homeland and their nation; their memory will remain immortal,” he declared on Twitter yesterday afternoon.
“A cowardly attack will not deter us nor will it stop us from realising our goals.
“Our martyrs will safeguard our future. The UAE is reborn.
“Let it be known to the enemy that the United Arab Emirates’ determination is strengthened by the sacrifices of its people and the bravery of its armed forces.
“The United Arab Emirates and the Arab coalition will restore the security and stability to the region and will accomplish their mission.
“The martyrs were targeted by a GGM (missile) and the explosion of an ammunition storehouse. Our armed forces will not rest until they achieve liberation.
“Our martyrs strengthen our force and resolve to accomplish our mission. Their souls and spilt blood make us more determined and committed than ever. Our flag will remain proud and high.”
Also on Friday, the UAE Foreign Minister, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, received a telephone call from the United States secretary of state, John Kerry, who offered his condolences.
Sheikh Abdullah thanked Mr Kerry for calling to offer his sympathy.
Chairman of the Arab Parliament and member of the FNC, Ahmad Al Jarwan, offered his sincere condolences to the President, Sheikh Khalifa, the UAE leadership, the families of the martyrs and the Emirati people.
According to UAE news website 24.ae, he said: “We take pride in our martyrs who stood in the face of injustice and tyranny. They are an honour to the UAE but also to the whole Arab nation.
“In my capacity as chairman of the Arab Parliament, I convey the solidarity of the Arab nations with the United Arab Emirates as our grief turns into pride in our martyrs. They will be remembered throughout the Arab world.
“The UAE martyrs have instilled determination and resolve in the Emirati people to keep giving and sacrificing for the sake of our dear nation and to support the causes of the Arabs, Muslims and humanity.”
Also on Friday, coalition ally Bahrain said five of its soldiers had been killed in southern Saudi Arabia where they had been posted to help defend the border with Yemen, but it gave no details.
On Friday night a moment of silence was held at two Arabian Gulf Cup matches in respect for those killed. Players and officials wore black armbands and the usual music was not played at the Fujairah v Sharjah and Al Nasr v Al Wasl games.
Awqaf, The General Authority of Islamic Affairs And Endowments, said: ‘’Our gallant martyrs raced to reach the most honourable ends and the most noble goals when they offered their pure blood in defence of the right, so as to gain the highest degree of contentment and companionship of prophets in eternal paradise.’’
Dr Mohammed Matar Al Kaabi, chairman of Awqaf, hailed the martyrs as ‘’torches of right’’ who will light the path to our next generations.
The Arab Republic of Egypt today offered deep condolences to the government and people of the UAE.
The Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in a statement, also extended heartfelt sympathy to the families of martyrs and prayed to Almighty Allah to grant patience and fortitude to their families to bear their loss. Yesterday’s incident puts the number of Emiratis killed in Operation Restoring Hope to 51.
Three soldiers, First Corporals Khalid Al Shehhi, Fahim Al Habsi and Juma Al Hammadi died on August 8. Saif Youssef Ahmed Al Falasi, 35, a father of five, and Abdul Aziz Sarhan Saleh Al Ka’abi, from Al Ain, were killed while on duty in July. Non-commissioned officer Hazim Obaid Al Ali died in Saudi Arabia during a training exercise in June.
See the funeral timings here: Funeral timings: UAE's fallen soldiers to be laid to rest today