Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 13 December 2019

Saudi Arabia intercepts Houthi drone launched towards Jizan

The attack comes as UN envoy to Yemen holds talks with rebel officials in Sanaa

Colonel Turki Al Malki, spokesman for the Arab coalition, speaks during a press conference at the security force's officers' club in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 27 August 2018. EPA  
Colonel Turki Al Malki, spokesman for the Arab coalition, speaks during a press conference at the security force's officers' club in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 27 August 2018. EPA  

Saudi Arabia’s air defence system intercepted and downed a Houthi drone launched towards the Saudi city of Jizan on Wednesday as talks continued between the UN special envoy to Yemen and rebel officials in Sanaa.

The city, located in southwestern Saudi Arabia near the Yemeni border, has come under several attacks by the rebels in recent weeks as tensions rise between Tehran and Washington.

“Houthi militia are continuing to target civilians in the kingdom, this portrays the group’s criminal tendencies,” coalition spokesperson Colonel Turki Al Malki said in a statement on Wednesday.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE are leading an Arab Coalition that intervened in Yemen in 2015 to try to restore the internationally recognised government, which was pushed out of Sanaa by the Houthis in late 2014.

The attack on Jizan occurred as UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths held talks with Houthi officials in Sanaa to salvage a peace deal reached during talks in Sweden last December.

For the last week, Mr Griffiths has shuttled between Riyadh and Sanaa in an attempt to revive the fragile deal for a ceasefire and troop withdrawal from the port city of Hodeidah.

The Yemeni city became the focal point of the war last year when the coalition attempted to take it back from the rebels.

Hodeidah is Yemen’s main supply line and lifeline for millions of Yemeni civilians.

Mr Griffiths is expected to brief the UN Security Council on the latest developments of the deal on Thursday.

On Tuesday evening, Riyadh said it intercepted and destroyed an additional three Houthi drones before they could reach targets in the southern Saudi cities of Jizan and Abha.

“The rebels are persistent to target civilian airports in the kingdom,” Col Al Malki said in a statement on Tuesday.

“By attacking neighbouring states and Yemeni civilians the rebels are proving their extremist ideologies,” Col Al Malki said, adding that the rebels are threatening regional and international security.

The coalition will take all the necessary measures to prevent the rebels from targeting civilians, he warned.

The rebels have stepped up attacks against the kingdom in the last month.

A Syrian resident of Saudi Arabia died in June from wounds sustained in a drone attack on Abha airport that was claimed by the rebels.

Updated: July 17, 2019 03:21 PM

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