Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 8 December 2019

Arab coalition intercepts Houthi drone launched towards Saudi city of Najran

Rebels are carrying out daily drone strikes aimed at Saudi Arabia

The Saudi-led Arab Coalition spokesman Colonel Turki Al Malki. AFP
The Saudi-led Arab Coalition spokesman Colonel Turki Al Malki. AFP

Saudi Arabia's air force intercepted a Houthi drone on Wednesday aimed at the kingdom's southern city of Najran, state news agency reported.

The Houthis, who control the Yemeni capital Sanaa, have in recent months stepped up attacks against targets in Saudi Arabia. They have launched strikes on the kingdom's southern airports near the Yemeni border.

Saudi Arabia is leading the Arab Coalition, which includes the UAE, that has been fighting in Yemen to restore the internationally recognised government since 2015, after the Houthis seized Sanaa in 2014.

"The coalition has taken all necessary measures, in line with humanitarian laws and rules of engagement, to deal with these threats and protect civilians,” representative for the Arab Coalition, Turki Al Malki said on Wednesday.

No casualties were reported.

The Saudi official repeated the coalition's warning to the rebels that their continuous attacks are "doomed to fail".

Mr Al Malki said the coalition will deter the threats posed by the rebels in line with international law.

The Iran-backed rebels have stepped up cross-border missile and drone attacks on the kingdom in recent months.

Saudi forces intercepted most of the attacks, but some have caused deaths and injuries, including two strikes on the kingdom's Abha Airport in June and July.

UN efforts to Hodeidah ceasefire into effect

The failed attacks by the rebels come as the United Nations is attempting to put in place a ceasefire in the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah, the main entry point for desperately needed food and medical supplies.

The truce, which was brokered in Sweden last December, was regarded as a first step towards achieving a political resolution to the four-year conflict.

A delegation of Houthi rebels and the government met this week to discuss the enforcement of the ceasefire on a ship on the Red Sea.

The Redeployment Co-ordination Committee meeting, was chaired by Gen Hany Nakhleh, acting head of the UN's Hodeidah observer mission.

“The atmosphere of the discussions among committee members was positive this week,” Gen Nakhleh said. Some political obstacles had arisen during the talks, he said.

Gen Nakhleh said the two sides agreed to “activate the ceasefire and put the mechanism for them in place”.

This would involve setting up a joint operations centre with government, rebel and UN representatives that will liaise with ceasefire monitoring teams in four locations on the Hodeidah front lines.

The UAE and Saudi Arabia said they are working closely with the various parties to put the ceasefire into effect in preparation for talks on ending the conflict.

Carrying out of the Stockholm agreement has been delayed because of lack of trust between the warring sides.

On Tuesday evening, the UN Envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, met the head of the Houthi delegation Moahmmad Abdel Salam in Oman.

"We exchanged views on ways to make progress in the political process and de-escalate tensions in Yemen," Mr Griffiths said on Twitter.

Updated: September 11, 2019 04:57 PM

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