Arab Coalition says Iran-supplied drone shot down in southern Saudi Arabia

Specialists find aircraft to have 'Iranian specifications and characteristics'

Iran has long been accused of passing Qasef-1 drones such as the one pictured above to Houthi rebels. Photo Courtesy: Conflict Armament Research
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The Arab Coalition in Yemen shot down a “Iranian specification” drone launched by Houthi rebels towards Abha, a Saudi city in the kingdom's south-west.

Saudi authorities "tracked an unidentified object (over) the city of Abha and dealt with it in accordance with the rules of engagement", coalition spokesman Colonel Turki Al Malki said in a statement published by the Saudi state news agency on Wednesday.

Coalition specialists who analysed the debris determined it to be a "hostile Houthi drone with Iranian specifications and characteristics", he said.

The Yemeni government accuses Tehran of supplying the rebels with drones to launch attacks on Saudi Arabia across the northern border, including two unmanned aircraft shot down in the southern Saudi Arabia last April.

Riyadh and its allies accuse Iran of supplying the rebels with weapons and military training — a charge Tehran denies.

The coalition said on January 20 that it had destroyed seven rebel targets, including drone facilities, near Yemen's insurgent-held capital Sanaa.

A rebel drone attack earlier this month killed a high-ranking Yemeni intelligence official during a military parade at Yemen's largest airbase.

An escalation in violence threatens a ceasefire for the port city of Hodeidah that was agreed upon in Sweden in December.

The UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr Anwar Gargash said the coalition struck 10 Houthi training camps outside Hodeidah on Wednesday.

"Coalition prepared to use more calibrated force to prod Houthi compliance with Stockholm Agreement," he tweeted.

Dr Gargash said that preserving the ceasefire requires the UN and international community to “press Houthis to stop violations, facilitate aid convoys, and move forward on withdrawal from Hodaidah city and ports as agreed”.

UN envoy Martin Griffiths has been shuttling between the warring parties to rescue the deal, the first major diplomatic breakthrough in the four-year-old war that has killed tens of thousands of people and pushed Yemen to the verge of starvation.

The warring parties disagree over who should control Hodeidah under the deal reached at the UN-brokered talks in Sweden between the Houthis and the government, which was forced out of Sanaa in late 2014.