UAE forces in Yemen foil Houthi missile attack on Mokha
The Iran-backed rebels also fired three ballistic missiles at Saudi Arabia in the past week, Arab Coalition says
The UAE Armed Forces have intercepted a ballistic missile fired by Yemen's Houthi rebels towards the densely populated Mokha district in Taez province.
No casualties or damage were reported as the UAE's Patriot missile defence system intercepted the missile far from residential areas, the state news agency Wam reported late on Monday.
The missile attack comes despite UN efforts to restart peace talks between the Iran-backed rebels and the Yemeni government. The Saudi-led Arab Coalition, of which the UAE is a member, suspended an offensive on the rebel-held port city of Hodeidah to support the mediation efforts led by UN special envoy Martin Griffiths.
The coalition has repeatedly foiled Houthi missiles attacks on liberated areas of Yemen and on Saudi Arabia, which have increased after the rebels suffered a string of defeats in recent months.
Coalition spokesman Col Turki Al Malki said on Monday that the rebels launched three ballistic missiles from Saada province, their stronghold bordering Saudi Arabia, between July 9 to 16. The attacks brought the total number of ballistic missiles launched towards Saudi Arabia to 161, and the number of projectiles fired at the kingdom to 66,339.
Meanwhile, the Houthis suffered 247 losses – including sites, weapons and equipment – and 703 rebel fighters were killed, Col Al Malki told a press conference at the Armed Forces Club in Riyadh that was attended by tribal sheikhs from Saada.
Yemeni officials said more than 50 civilians, including women and children, have been killed in heavy fighting along the western coast between pro-government forces and the rebels in the past two weeks.
Battles in the Al Tuhayta district, south of Hodeidah city, has left 57 civilians wounded since the beginning of July, reported the Associated Press.
Many of them were injured by landmines planted by the Houthis, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity on Tuesday because they were not authorised to speak to the media.
The coalition spokesman said the rebels' daily violations against Yemeni civilians were widely observed and there was a public rejection of the sabotage and sectarian acts being committed by militias.
The coalition intervened in the Yemen conflict in March 2015 at the request of President Abdrabu Mansur Hadi. It has helped the government gain control of large areas of southern Yemen, including the port city of Aden where the government is based after the rebels seized the capital, Saana, in September 2014.
The conflict has created the world's worst humanitarian crisis, according to the UN, with more than 22 million people – about three-quarters of the population – in need of aid.
The offensive on Hodeidah, the country's main entry point for food and aid, had raised fears that shipments would be disrupted but the coalition has outlined plans to ensure the continued delivery of assistance to civilians.
As many as 22 relief inlets are still functioning, Col Al Malki said on Monday. The number of entry permits issued by the coalition, which imposed a blockade to prevent the rebels smuggling in weapons, had reached 27,471 from March 26, 2015 until July 16 this year.
He said the coalition supported Yemeni Prime Minister Ahmed bin Dhager's call to prioritise political efforts to achieve peace, as well as the government's rejection of the Lebanese militia Hezbollah's support for the Houthis in Yemen.
Updated: July 17, 2018 03:21 PM