Saudi-led coalition intercepts Houthi drone launched at kingdom

The Iran-backed rebels have repeatedly attacked Saudi Arabia

A kamikaze drone is seen on display after US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley unveiled previously classified information intending to prove Iran violated UNSCR 2231 by providing the Houthi rebels in Yemen with arms during a press conference at Joint Base Anacostia in Washington, DC, on December 14, 2017.
Haley said Thursday that a missile fired by Huthi militants at Saudi Arabia last month had been made in Iran. "It was made in Iran then sent to Huthi militants in Yemen," Haley said of the missile.
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The spokesman for the Saudi-led military coalition battling Houthi rebels in Yemen said that the forces had intercepted and destroyed a drone launched by the group at civilians in Saudi Arabia.

“The drone has not achieved its targets,” the coalition said via Saudi Press Agency on Monday evening.

The Iran-backed Houthi rebels, who are fighting the Arab Coalition in Yemen, have repeatedly launched attacks against targets in neighbouring Saudi Arabia, including at airports.

A TV station run by the Houthis reported earlier on Monday that drone attacks had hit targets in southern Saudi Arabia and was aimed at Abha regional airport, disrupting traffic. Saudi authorities denied that flights had been impacted at the airport. The transport hub has been hit several times in recent weeks, including on July 23 when one person was killed and 21 others wounded and then again on July 1 when nine people were wounded.

Coalition spokesman Col Turki Al Malki said the Houthis continued to launch drones in “hostile and terrorist acts by targeting civilians and civilian installations, and that none of their targets have been achieved”.

“We affirm the continued implementation of deterrent measures against these terrorist militias and the neutralisation of Houthi capabilities with all rigour and in accordance with international humanitarian law and its customary rules,” he said.

The Houthis have stepped up launching bomb-laden drones in Saudi Arabia amid the kingdom’s 4-year long war in the country to back the internationally recognised government of President Abdrabu Mansur Hadi. The Iranian-backed rebel’s campaign comes amid heightened tensions between Iran and the US over the faltering nuclear deal with world powers.

On Monday, the Arab coalition said that they had foiled an attempt to attack commercial shipping in the Red Sea using a booby-trapped boat.

"The naval forces of the coalition managed to thwart an [attack] by the Huthi militia targeting a commercial ship in the southern waters of the Red Sea, using an unmanned booby-trapped boat," Col Al Malki was quoted as saying by the Saudi Press Agency.

"The coalition forces spotted the unmanned boat... then intercepted and destroyed it," he added.

The Houthi's rejected the accusation they were attempting to target commercial shipping.

Last year Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest crude exporter, halted exports through the Bab Al Mandeb as a result of a Huthi attack on a tanker in the strategic waterway, before resuming them 10 days later.

Bab Al Mandeb is a crucial shipping lane between the Arabian Peninsula and the Horn of Africa, linking the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden.

More recent attacks on tankers in the Straits of Hormuz – a vital passage for world oil supplies on the other side of the Arab peninsula – which the US blamed on Iran have spiked regional tensions.

Iran has denied responsibility for the attacks.

Separately, the joint forces in Hodeidah shot down a Houthi drone over Al Duraihimi area eastern the city on Monday, the spokesperson of the joint forces in the area, Col Wathah Al Dubaish, told The National.

“The spy aircraft which was shot down by our forces is of Qasef-2K made in Iran. Additionally, our forces successfully destroyed a Houthi owned KPV-14.5 heavy machine gun used to target our forces in Al Saleh city eastern the city of Hodeidah,” Col Al Dubaish said.

“The Houthi rebels escalated their attacks over sites controlled by the joint forces using explosives-laden drones,” he said. “They increased their drone attacks on our forces in a bid to provoke us to end the Stockholm agreement, but we still restrain ourselves not to respond to their provocations.”

The Stockholm agreement, signed in late 2018 at UN peace talks in Sweden, has been partially enforced as both sides have pulled units back from the city. However, the implementation has been patchy with concerns expressed by the Yemeni government that the rebels have been undermining the agreement.

Col Al Dubaish said that there are two Iranian experts in Al-Mansouria and Al-Jarahi districts north of Hodeidah in charge of drone attacks.

On Sunday, Houthi rebels displayed new weapons on their TV channels showing sophisticated rockets and drones that the Yemeni military say illustrates new smuggled parts from Iran and Hezbollah.