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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 December 2018

Houthi rebels' No 2 killed in coalition airstrike

Rebel media confirm death of Saleh Al Samad in Hodeidah last week

Saleh Al Samad, the president of Houthi rebels' supreme political council in Yemen, was killed in an airstrike by the Saudi-led coalition on April 19, 2108, according to rebel media. Yahya Arhab / EPA
Saleh Al Samad, the president of Houthi rebels' supreme political council in Yemen, was killed in an airstrike by the Saudi-led coalition on April 19, 2108, according to rebel media. Yahya Arhab / EPA

The second-highest ranking Houthi leader has been killed in a Saudi-led coalition airstrike, the Yemeni rebels announced on Monday.

Saleh Al Samad, head of the Houthis' supreme political council, was killed on Thursday, the rebel-affiliated Al Masirah TV channel reported. Al Samad was killed in Hodeidah province, the channel said on its Twitter account.

Al Masirah reported that the Houthis had appointed Mahdi Al Mashat, the director of Abdelmalek Al Houthi's office, as Al Samad's replacement.

Al Samad was second on the coalition’s list of most wanted people in Yemen, after Houthi leader Abdelmalek Al Houthi. The coalition had offered a $20 million (Dh74m) reward for any information that led to Al Samad's capture, according to Saudi-owned broadcaster Al Arabiya TV.

The Al Arabiya news website said he was killed in a raid on Al Buraihi in southern Hodeidah, quoting sources.

The sources told Al Arabiya that Al Samad had been under house arrest in recent weeks after differences between rebel factions.

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Al Samad's death came as government forces backed by the coalition escalated their attacks on the Iran-backed rebels in Hodeidah and Taez provinces in southern Yemen.

The UAE Armed Forces, which play a leading role in the coalition, are currently supporting an offensive near the Red Sea port city of Mokha as part of a campaign to break a rebel siege on Taez city. Scores of Houthi commanders were reported killed in fighting in Taez on Saturday.

The late Saleh al-Samad (L), a senior Houthi official who was killed by a Saudi-led coalition air strike last week, sits behind a bullet-proof glass during a rally marking the third anniversary of the Saudi-led intervention in the Yemeni conflict in Sanaa, Yemen March 26, 2018. Picture taken March 26, 2018. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah
Saleh al-Samad, left, was killed by a Saudi-led coalition air strike last week. Khaled Abdullah / Reuters

The rebels have at the same time increased their attacks on neighbouring Saudi Arabia, with near daily missiles launches across Yemen's northern border.

Saudi air defences on Monday intercepted two ballistic missiles fired at a Saudi Aramco facility in the southern coastal city of Jazan.

Al Masirah TV said they had targeted a port belonging to the Saudi state oil giant, but there were no reports of damage or casualties, and no immediate comment from Aramco.