Saudi-led coalition says it shot down two Houthi drones

Coalition spokesman Turki al-Malki says the drones were directed at civilian targets in Saudi’s Khamis Mushait city.

Houthi drone
The two drones were launched toward the border town of Khamis Mushait, the Saudi-led coalition claims [File: Stepane Kalin/AP]

The Saudi-led coalition, which has been battling the Yemeni Houthi rebels, shot down two drones launched in the direction of Saudi Arabia by the rebel group, Saudi state news agency SPA reported, citing coalition spokesman Turki al-Malki.

The two drones were launched toward the border town of Khamis Mushait, SPA said, accusing Houthi forces of targeting civilian facilities and residential areas.

The Houthis, who have controlled the capital, Sanaa, and areas in the country’s north since 2014, did not confirm the attacks. The rebel group has launched dozens of drone attacks on Saudi Arabia in the past in what they call retaliation of the Saudi intervention in Yemen.

The Saudi coalition launched a military offensive in March 2015 in support of the internationally recognised government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who fled Sanaa following the takeover by the Houthis.

The Houthis also claimed the September 2019 attack on oil facilities belonging to state firm Aramco but Riyadh, as well as its Western allies, blamed the attack on Iran, believed to be a close ally of the Houthis.

The rebel group’s media reported dozens of air strikes on Sunday by the coalition’s warplanes in several provinces including Marib, where fighting has raged over the last three months.

A unilateral ceasefire announced by the Saudi-led coalition in April expired last week without leading to a permanent truce, after the Houthi movement rejected the offer.

Violence has continued in several provinces.

UN forced to cut aid

Yemen has been in the grip of a devastating power struggle since the Houthis took over the capital Sana’a and other cities in late 2014.

Nearly five years of an air campaign led by the Saudi-led coalition has killed thousands and sent the Arab world’s poorest country towards the brink of famine. Help from international aid agencies, including the UN, has provided much-needed assistance to the population – nearly 80 percent of whom live below the poverty line.

Aid organisations are making an urgent plea for funding to shore up their operations in Yemen, saying they have already been forced to stop some of their work even as the coronavirus rips through the country.

Some 75 percent of UN programmes in Yemen have had to shut their doors or reduce operations.

The global body’s World Food Programme had to cut rations in half and UN-funded health services were reduced in 189 of 369 hospitals nationwide.

Yemen’s health system ‘has collapsed’ as coronavirus spreads: UN

“It’s almost impossible to look a family in the face, to look them in the eyes and say, ‘I’m sorry but the food that you need in order to survive we have to cut in half,'” Lise Grande, resident UN coordinator for Yemen, told The Associated Press.

The dwindling funds are the result of several factors, but among the top reasons is obstruction by the Houthis.

The United States, one of the largest donors, decreased its aid to Yemen earlier this year, citing interference by the group.

It is yet to be seen whether the Houthis will allow monitoring and oversight or give UN agencies the space to operate.

A UN pledging conference for Yemen on Tuesday seeks $2.41 billion to cover essential activities from June to December.

Tuesday’s conference will be co-hosted for the first time by Saudi Arabia – a major player in Yemen’s civil war since it unleashed the bombing campaign in 2015 to try to push back the Houthis.

Critics question the Saudis’ high-profile role in rallying humanitarian support even as they continue to wage a war – as do the Houthis – that has created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Source: News Agencies