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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 October 2018

Yemen army shoots down Iran-made drone in Hodeidah

The aircraft was carrying explosive devices, says spokesman

Yemeni pro-government forces man a barricade in the area of Al Fazah in Yemen's Hodeidah province on June 16, 2018. AFP
Yemeni pro-government forces man a barricade in the area of Al Fazah in Yemen's Hodeidah province on June 16, 2018. AFP

The Yemeni army shot down an Iranian-made drone that belongs to the Houthi rebels over Hodeidah province, reported the state-run Saba news agency.

Brig Gen Abdelrahman Al Lahji, a commander in the army's former elite Al Amalikah brigades, rebuilt with the help of the UAE, said the drone was carrying explosive devices over the Al Nukhaila area north of Al Duraihimi district.

“The rebels were trying to spy and monitor the Yemeni army’s movements, but it was shot down and these militias are starting to crumble,” he said.

Yemen government forces — backed by an Arab coalition — have reached the southern and northern parts of Hodeidah’s international airport. The army is surrounding the airport in preparation to raid it and clear it of landmines planted by the Houthis.

“The army is moving in on the Houthi militias at the airport and it almost has entire control of the surrounding areas,” said Saba.

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Yemeni media reported more than 500 Houthis were killed since the army and the coalition launched an offensive on Hodeidah on Wednesday. The aim is to liberate the key port city from the rebels to box them into the rebel-held capital, Sanaa, cut off their supply lines and force them to the negotiating table.

Hodeidah’s port handles 80 per cent of essential goods going to Yemen, which the UN says is grappling with the world's worst humanitarian crisis. About 8.4 million people in the country face conditions close to famine, according to the World Health Organisation.

The Houthis have been using the port to smuggle in Iran-provided weapons, including ballistic missiles, which have repeatedly targeted Saudi Arabia.

The latest incident was on Sunday when the Saudi air defence intercepted a Houthi missile from the Saada province over the city of Jizan.

“It was launched with the aim to target civilians and residential areas,” said Col Turki Al Malki, according to the state-run Saudi Press Agency (SPA). He added that a Pakistani resident sustained minor injuries.

The Saudi-led coalition — which includes the UAE — intervened in the war in March 2015 at the request of the internationally-recognised government of Yemeni President Abdrabu Mansur Hadi.