Arab Coalition destroys Houthi drone targeting Saudi civilians

Iran-backed rebels are attempting to provoke Saudi-led forces to break the Hodeidah ceasefire, says coalition spokesman

Abu Dhabi, U.A.E., June 19, 2018. Allegedly used Iranian weapons that have been used in Yemen.  A shot down drone on display.
Victor Besa / The National
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Requested by:   Jake Badger

The Saudi-led coalition in Yemen intercepted and destroyed a Houthi drone launched towards the Asir region in southern Saudi Arabia, the Saudi Press Agency said on Sunday.

Colonel Turki Al Maliki, spokesman for the Arab Coalition, said Saudi missile defence systems recognised a moving object headed towards a populated area of Asir.

The drone was intercepted before reaching its target. No injuries were reported.

Last week, the Royal Saudi Air force shot down two Houthi drones they believed had targeted densely populated civilian areas along the Saudi-Yemeni border.

The debris caused by the interception of the drones injured five civilians in Khamis Mushait, a Saudi city about 100 kilometres from the Yemeni border.

A woman and her child were among those injured. The fallout also damaged several homes and four vehicles.

According to the coalition, the Iran-backed Houthi rebels are trying to take advantage of the Arab Coalition's adherence to the Hodeidah ceasefire by targeting civilians in Saudi Arabia with remote-controlled drones.

Mr Al Maliki said the Houthis have continuously targeted civilian areas in direct violation of UN conventions. He said these acts of aggression were meant to provoke the Arab Coalition into a battle in Hodeidah.

The Houthis have failed to abide by a peace deal they signed alongside the Arab Coalition in December. The Saudi-led government continues to look for a political solution to a conflict that has killed tens of thousands of people and pushed 14 million to the brink of starvation.

An Arab Coalition source previously told The National that the Houthis are preventing access to vital food sources in the region.

The World Food Programme has requested access to the Red Sea Mill, which contains enough wheat to feed 3.7 million people for a month, to allow them to test the stockpile they fear has rotted.

They were given access in February to begin the tests but sources now say the rebels are preventing the UN and WFP from accessing the silo.

UN officials are attempting to maintain the ceasefire deal and gain access to roads to distribute provisions, but fighting has raised scepticism that a political solution to the conflict will be found any time soon.