Houthi rocket targets desalination plant in Al-Shuqaiq

Time: June 21, 2019  

The attack shows the militia are receiving new weaponry from Iran. (File/AFP)
  • Saudi officials are working to identify the missile
  • The Houthi militants claimed the attack

DUBAI: A rocket fired by Houthi militia exploded near a desalination plant in Al-Shuqaiq southwest of Saudi Arabia, but did not cause any damage or injuries, state news agency SPA reported on Thursday.
Military and security organs were working to identify the type of rocket that was fired, Arab Coalition spokesperson Col. Turki Al-Maliki said in the report.
The Houthi militants claimed responsibility for the attack through their media channels.
The attack constitutes a war crime, as it targets civilian facilities, and shows that Iran is supplying new weaponry for the militants, Al-Maliki said, adding that the Houthis continue to use Hodeidah port to smuggle arms and endanger regional and international peace.
The Arab coalition would take immediate action to protect civilians against the Houthi attacks, Al-Maliki said.

Houthi militia members on Thursday also launched a ballistic missile from the courtyard of Sanaa University, which hit Yemeni territory, the Coalition said.

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Saudi Arabia shoots down Houthi drone headed toward Jazan

Time: June 21, 2019  

Hothis have increasingly used kamikaze drones as a weapon both in Yemen and Saudi Arabia. (AP/File photo)
  • Attack is the latest in a salvo of missiles and drones targeting civilian sites in the Kingdom
  • US has expressed increasing concern at the Iran-backed militia’s behavior

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s air defense forces shot down a “hostile drone” launched by the Houthi militia in Yemen towards Jazan on Thursday.

The drone was intercepted and destroyed at 9.06 p.m., Arab coalition spokesman Col. Turki Al-Maliki said. He added that the Iran-backed Houthis are constantly trying to hit civilian targets.

The attempted attack comes as the Houthis have ramped up efforts to hit inside the Kingdom since they struck Abha airport last week, wounding 26 people.

Earlier, the coalition said the Houthis targeted a desalination plant in the south-western Saudi province of Jazan. The projectile struck near the plant in the Al-Shuqaiq area late Wednesday. There were no casualties or damage.
The coalition will take “firm measures, urgent and timely, to deter this terrorist militia”, Maliki said.

The White House said Thursday that President Donald Trump had been briefed about reports of the strike.
Human Rights Watch denounced last week’s strike on the airport as an apparent “war crime”, urging the Houthis to immediately stop all attacks on civilian infrastructure in Saudi Arabia.

The Houthis have fired scores of missiles at Saudi Arabia since the Arab coalition joined the conflict in 2015 – months after the Houthis overthrew the internationally recognized government from the capital Sanaa.

The Houthis rely on Iranian support and weapons and their targeting of Saudi Arabia has added to growing international anger and concern over Iran’s actions in the region.

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Saudi land mines project clears 105 Houthi devices

Time: June 21, 2019  

A total of 72,381 mines have been extracted since the project began. (SPA)
  • Thousands of mines have been removed since the project was launched

RIYADH: The Saudi Project for Landmine Clearance (MASAM) in Yemen extracted 2 anti-personnel mines, 47 anti-tank mines and 56 unexploded ordnance — totaling 105 mines — during the second week of June.

A total of 72,381 mines have been extracted since the beginning of the project. An estimated 1 million mines have been planted by the Iranian-backed Houthi militias in Yemen over the past three years claiming hundreds of civilian lives.

MASAM aims to dismantle mines in Yemen to protect civilians and ensure that urgent humanitarian supplies are delivered safely. The vast number of land mines continues to pose a threat to the lives of Yemeni people.

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UN food chief accuses Houthis of diverting Yemen aid for profit

Time: June 18, 2019  

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Women collecting food-aid in Houthi-controlled Sanaa. The World Food Programme, accused the militia of diverting aid away from its intended recipients. (AFP/File photo)
  • David Beasley of the World Food Programme warned aid deliveries to militia-held areas could be suspended later this week
  • UN envoy to Yemen expresses concern over Abha airport attack in Saudi Arabia

UNITED NATIONS: The head of the UN food agency accused Yemen’s Houthi rebels on Monday of diverting food from the country’s hungriest people and threatened to suspend food aid later this week unless they immediately implement registration and monitoring agreements.
David Beasley, executive director of the World Food Program, told the UN Security Council that the agency in late 2018 uncovered “serious evidence that food was being diverted and going to the wrong people” in the capital of Sanaa and other Houthi-controlled areas.
As examples, he said up to 60 percent of beneficiaries at seven centers in Sanaa “confirmed they had not received any assistance” and 33 percent of respondents in the rebels’ northern stronghold of Saada received no food in April.
He said WFP has insisted on — and the Houthis finally agreed to — registration and biometric identification of beneficiaries and monitoring in December and January, but the agency has faced roadblocks ever since in implementing the agreements.
Beasley said he wrote to Houthi authorities again asking for action, not words.

“Let me be crystal clear; children are dying right now because of this”, he said
“If we do not receive these assurances, then we will begin a phased suspension of food assistance, most likely towards the end of this week.”
Beasley told the council Monday that the diversions were mainly in Houthi areas. When there are reports in government-controlled areas, he said, “we receive cooperation to address issues.”
The conflict in Yemen began with the 2014 takeover of Sanaa by the Iranian-backed Houthis, who toppled the government of Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. An Arab coalition allied with Yemen’s internationally recognized government has been fighting the Houthis since 2015.
UN special envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths, Lowcock and many council ambassadors expressed concern at the increase in attacks on Saudi Arabia, especially the recent drone attacks on the airport in Abha in the country’s southwest that the kingdom said injured 26 people.

Griffiths said he was concerned about the attack on Abha airport in south-west Saudi Arabia last week, and civilian infrastructure in southern Saudi Arabia in general.

He also warned that escalating tensions in the region with Iran were hampering the political process in Yemen.

“In the context of wider regional tensions the risks to the political process have never looked more stark,” Griffiths said. “I call for steps to be taken to deescalate tensions for the benefit of the Yemeni people as well as for regional security.”

An agreement signed in Stockholm in December that focused on a ceasefire in Hodeidah is under increasing strain as regional tensions grow. The US and Saudi Arabia, which is part of the Arab coalition fighting the Houthis in Yemen, have accused Iran of attacking two tankers ib the Gulf of Oman last week.

Griffiths said that while there has been progress in a deal to redeploy forces around Hodeidah, there has been little movement on other elements of Stockholm, including the city of Taez and an exchange of prisoners.

The Security Council expressed support for Griffiths and reiterated that there can only be a political solution to the Yemen conflict. A council statement condemned the June 12 attack on the airport in Abha and called for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.

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Human Rights Watch declares Houthi Abha airport attack a ‘war crime’ as another missile targets city

Time: June 17, 2019  

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A picture taken during a guided tour with the Saudi military on June 13, 2019 shows the damage on the roof of Abha airport in the popular mountain resort of the same name in the southwest of Saudi Arabia, one day after a Yemeni rebel missile attack on the civil airport wounded 26 civilians. (AFP)
  • Human Rights Watch urged the Houthis to stop attacks on civilian infrastructure in Saudi Arabia
  • The Houthi attack on the southwestern Saudi town of Abha’s regional airport wounded 26 people Wednesday

CAIRO: A leading rights group has called an attack by the Iranian-backed Houthis on Abha airport in Saudi Arabia an “apparent war crime” as the city was targeted again Saturday by the militia’s missiles.

An Al Arabiya reported said Saudi forces intercepted a ballistic missile above the southwestern Saudi city. On Friday, Saudi forces intercepted five drones from Yemen, the Arab military coalition fighting to support the government said.

The drones targeted Abha airport, where a Houthi missile on Wednesday injured 26 civilians, and the nearby city of Khamis Mushait.

Human Rights Watch on Saturday urged the Houthis to stop attacks on civilian infrastructure in Saudi Arabia. “Commanders who order deliberate or indiscriminate attacks on civilian objects are responsible for war crimes,” the group said.

The coalition targeted Houthi military sites in Sanaa on Saturday, including the militia’s air defense systems, Al Arabiya reported.

The spokesperson of the coalition, Col. Turki Al-Maliki said the operation aimed to destroy the Houthi militia’s threat to regional and international security.

*With AP

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Survivors of Houthi missile attack describe moment explosion ripped through Abha airport

Time: June 15, 2019  

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The Iran-aligned Houthi movement, which is locked in a war with the Arab coalition in Yemen, claimed responsibility for the attack on Abha Airport. (Screenshot/Twitter)
  • The Houthis have for years targeted Saudi cities and infrastructure with drones and missiles
  • The strike on a civilian target inside Saudi Arabia came at a time of elevated tensions in the region between Iran and Gulf Arab allies of the United States

ABHA: As Nadia Assiri waited inside a regional Saudi Arabian airport for her sister to arrive from the capital Riyadh, an explosion threw her to the floor and ignited a fire.
Nearby, shrapnel tore through the arm and leg of another woman, Indian-national Um Karim, when a missile hit the arrivals hall of Abha airport where she had been sitting in the early hours of Wednesday morning after a night flight.
“While we were sitting we heard a noise and then saw fire and the blast threw me far,” said Assiri, a 33-year-old Saudi.
Um Karim’s son-in-law said that the explosion shook the car as the family came to pick her up. “I was scared there would be a second blast,” he told Reuters.
The Houthis said a cruise missile strike destroyed the control tower.
The Iran-aligned Houthi movement, which is locked in a war with the Arab coalition in Yemen, claimed responsibility for the attack. The coalition said 26 people were hurt, including Saudi, Yemeni and Indian nationals.
The Coalition responded on Thursday with air strikes around the Houthi-held Yemeni capital Sanaa that it said targeted the group’s military assets.
The Saudi airport that was struck, Abha, is about 200 km (125 miles) north of the border with Yemen. When media visited the airport on Thursday, it smelled of fresh paint. The flat bitumen roof of the arrivals hall had been patched up, but scorch marks could be seen.

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The Houthis, who control Yemen’s capital and the territory where most of the population lives, have for years targeted Saudi cities and infrastructure with drones and missiles, most of which have been intercepted by Saudi defence systems.
The strike on a civilian target inside Saudi Arabia came at a time of elevated tensions in the region between Iran and Gulf Arab allies of the United States.
“The fact that civilians have been injured (in Abha) puts additional pressure on the Saudis to respond to this attack. This just adds more fuel to the fire,” said Jean-Marc Rickli, a defence expert at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy.
On Wednesday, the coalition said evidence indicated that Iran’s Revolutionary Guards had supplied the Houthis with the weapon used in the Abha attack. The spokesman for the Arab coalition said on Thursday the fact the missiles were not intercepted did not mean there was a failure in Saudi defences.
Last month the Houthis claimed responsibility for an armed drone strike on two oil-pumping stations in Saudi Arabia, the first time they had struck the kingdom’s oil infrastructure.
The coalition intervened in Yemen in 2015 to try to restore a government ousted from power in Sanaa by the Houthis.

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TIMELINE: Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia

Time: June 13, 2019  

Houthis attacked Abha airport on Wednesday. (AFP)

JEDDAH: The Iranian-backed Houthi militia in Yemen have attacked Saudi Arabia’s territory, killing and injuring civilians in the process, often to international condemnation. On Wednesday, the militia launched a missile at Abha airport, injuring at least 26 people.

Here is a look at other incidents of terror perpetrated by the Houthis against the Kingdom.

May 5, 2015: Saudi Arabia suspended schools in the southern town of Najran after Iran-backed Houthi militias fired at the city from Yemen, Al Arabiya news channel reported.

At least two civilians were killed in the attack, while five Saudi soldiers were captured by the Houthi militants, the Associated Press reported, quoting tribal leaders who chose to be unnamed.

June 7, 2015: Saudi troops shot down a Scud missile fired into the Kingdom from Yemen before dawn, the coalition command said.

Oct. 28, 2016: Saudi ground defenses intercepted a ballistic missile launched by Houthi militias targeting the holy city of Makkah.

The Arab coalition said in a statement that the missile was downed 65 kilometers from Makkah, adding that coalition jet fighters attacked the rocket launchers in Saada and destroyed them.

July 28, 2017: Saudi air defense forces intercepted a ballistic missile launched toward Makkah by Yemen’s Houthi militia, according to the Arab coalition command.

In a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), the coalition command said the missile was shot down over Al-Wasliya area in Taif province, some 69 kilometers away from Makkah. No damage or injuries were reported.

The missile attack was “clearly a desperate attempt to disrupt the Hajj season,” the statement said.

Nov. 4, 2017: The Houthis launched a missile at Riyadh, targeting King Khalid International Airport. Saudi air defense forces intercepted the missile and shot it down, and there was no damage.

Dec. 20, 2017: Houthi militias in Yemen fired a ballistic missile at Riyadh, targeting Al-Yamamah Royal Palace in the Saudi capital.

“The missile was intercepted by Saudi patriot defense systems south of Riyadh, causing the debris to scatter,” the Arab coalition supporting the legitimate Yemeni government said.

MalikiCoalition spokesperson Col. Turki Al- said that no one was injured and no properties were damaged.

May 15, 2018: Royal Saudi Air Defense Forces (RSADF) intercepted a ballistic missile fired by Houthi militia over the southern city of Jazan, the Arab coalition spokesman said.

Col. Turki Al-Maliki announced that at 12:40 p.m., Saudi air defense intercepted a ballistic missile launched within Yemeni territories toward the Kingdom’s territories.

The missile was directed toward populated areas in Jazan province.

June 10, 2018: Saudi air defenses intercepted a ballistic missile over the southern city of Jazan after being fired from rebel-held territory in Yemen, the Arab coalition said.

Debris from the missile landed in residential areas of Jazan without causing casualties, the coalition said in a statement released by SPA.

The attack came a day after three civilians were killed in Jazan when Houthi militia fired a “projectile” at the province.

June 24, 2018: Saudi Arabia’s air defense forces intercepted and destroyed two ballistic missiles over Riyadh, launched by the Houthi militia in Yemen.

Homes in the Saudi capital shook and there were at least six loud blasts, bright flashes in the sky and puffs of smoke above the city. There were no reports of casualties.

April 2, 2019: Two Houthi drones targeting civilian areas in Khamis Mushayt, a mountain city in Asir region, were intercepted and destroyed.

Five people were reported injured by falling debris. Four vehicles and a number of houses were damaged.

April 8, 2019: Arab coalition air defense forces intercepted a Houthi drone aimed at Saudi Arabia’s southern region of Asir, SPA said.

Col. Turki Al-Maliki, Arab coalition spokesperson, said that at 10:50 p.m. local time, Saudi air defenses spotted the drone heading towards a populated area in the Asir region.

The drone was shot down before reaching its target and nobody had been reported injured by falling debris from the unmanned aerial vehicle, he said.

Al-Maliki said that the militia continued to target civilians with drone attacks as well as booby-trapped boats in violation of the Stockholm Agreement signed by the militia and the Yemeni government and its coalition backers.

He said that “these acts of terrorism” aimed to provoke the coalition forces into carrying out military action in the province of Hodeidah.

May 13, 2019: Two Saudi tankers were targeted off the coast of the UAE. The Kingdom’s energy minister said the two vessels were targeted off Fujairah. He said that one tanker was en route to the Kingdom to be loaded with Saudi crude oil for the US.

May 14, 2019: Between 6:00 a.m. and 6:30 a.m., two pump stations on the East-West pipeline were attacked by armed drones, which caused a fire and minor damage to Pump Station No. 8. The fire has since been contained.

“The pipeline transports Saudi oil from the Eastern Province to Yanbu port,” a statement from Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said.

The early-morning attack, the second that week in the Gulf, targeted two pumping stations operated by Saudi Aramco.

Saudi Aramco later confirmed the attack in a statement, stating that it had “responded to a fire at East-West Pipeline Pump Station 8 which was caused by a sabotage incident using armed drones which targeted pump stations 8 and 9.”

May 20, 2019: Saudi Arabia’s air defense forces shot down two ballistic missiles that Al-Arabiya reported were heading toward Jeddah and Makkah.

The forces “monitored air targets flying over restricted areas in Jeddah and Taif province, and were dealt with accordingly,” Arab coalition spokesperson Col. Turki Al-Maliki said.

June 11, 2019: Saudi Arabia’s air defense forces shot down two weaponized drones launched by the Houthis from Yemen toward the city of Khamis Mushayt, Al-Maliki said.

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Yemen vice president praises coalition’s efforts against Iran’s interference

Time: June 09, 2019  

Yemeni Vice President Ali Mohsen Al-Ahmar said he was appreciative of the Saudi-led Arab coalition for its part in defending Yemen against what he called ‘Iran’s destructive influence in the country.’ (File/AFP)
  • Houthis killed eight civilians during Eid
  • The militia have suffered heavy losses in recent fighting

JEDDAH: Yemeni Vice President Ali Mohsen Al-Ahmar said on Saturday that he was grateful for the Saudi-led Arab coalition in defending Yemen from “Iran’s destructive influence in the country.”

His comments came during a discussion with military commanders in Yemen as they spoke about the progress made in the fight against the Iran-backed Houthi militia, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

Al-Ahmar called on the residents of Hajjah to support the efforts of the army to establish security and stability ion the province.

Meanwhile, the Yemeni army launched a military operation targeting sites in the east of Sanaa.

Army units and forces of the Popular Resistance carried out a surprise attack on the positions of the Houthis.

According to sources, the militia suffered heavy losses, while no injuries were recorded among the units of the attacking army.

In Taiz, the Houthi snipers shot and killed a woman and wounded another, local sources reported.

During Eid, eight civilians were killed by Houthi militia in Taiz.

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WFP blasts Houthis for hampering rollout of aid program

Time: June 04, 2019  

Supporters of the Houthi movement take part in a protest in Sanaa, Yemen. (Reuters)
  • Houthis were hampering the rollout of a WFP biometric system to identify those in most need

DUBAI: A dispute over control of biometric data between the World Food Programme (WFP) and Yemen’s Houthi militia is straining humanitarian efforts and threatens to disrupt aid distribution.

In an unusually strong statement the UN agency, which feeds more than 10 million people a month across the Arabian Peninsula’s poorest nation, said last month it is considering suspending deliveries due to fighting, insecurity and interference in its work.

The WFP has said the Iran-aligned Houthis, who control the capital Sanaa, were hampering the rollout of a WFP biometric system to identify those in most need.

The biometric system — using iris scanning, fingerprints or facial recognition — is already used in areas controlled by Yemen’s internationally recognized government.

Sources familiar with the discussions said Houthi leaders asked the agency to stop the registration process in early April after realizing the new system bypasses Sanaa’s supervision.

Since discovering in December 2018 that donated food in Houthi areas was being systematically diverted through a local partner connected to Houthi authorities, the WFP has pressed the Houthis harder to implement a biometric registration system used globally to combat corruption in aid distribution.

“The continued blocking by some within the Houthi leadership of the biometric registration … is undermining an essential process that would allow us to independently verify that food is reaching … people on the brink of famine,” WFP spokesman Herve Verhoosel said.

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Saudi project clears 408 mines in one week

Time: June 03, 2019  

The vast number of mines continues to pose a threat to Yemeni people. (AP/File photo)
  • 72,276 Houthi devices disarmed amid fears for Yemenis

RIYADH: The Saudi Project for Landmine Clearance (MASAM) in Yemen extracted 19 anti-personnel mines, 112 anti-tank mines, four explosive devices and 273 unexploded ordnance — a total of 408 devices — during the final week of May.
A total of 72,276 mines have been extracted since the beginning of the project. An estimated 1.1 million mines have been planted by the Iranian-backed Houthi militias in Yemen over the past three years, claiming hundreds of civilian lives.
The project aims to dismantle mines in Yemen to protect civilians and ensure that humanitarian supplies are delivered safely. The Houthis are developing anti-vehicle mines and turning them into antipersonnel explosives to terrorize civilians. The vast number of mines continues to pose a threat to the Yemeni people.
Ramadan aid programs
The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief) has distributed 370 food baskets in several directorates of Yemen’s Socotra Island, helping 98 families. The center also distributed food baskets and iftar meals in several Yemeni governorates. More than 2,880 iftar meals were distributed to hospital patients, needy and displaced people in Hadhramaut and Dhale governorates.
KSRelief also distributed 855 cartons of dates to displaced and poor families in Abyan governorate.
Meanwhile, the center also distributed 3,000 food baskets to needy and displaced people in Balkh province, Afghanistan. In Lebanon, the distribution helped more than 250 people from poor and needy families as part of the Ramadan Village Program in Tripoli.

FASTFACT

According to a UN report, the number of Yemenis in need of help has risen from 14.7 million in 2013 to 24.1 million in 2019, a problem that will cost about $4.2 billion to address.

The Kingdom has not only supported Yemen financially, but also hosted more than 2 million Yemenis working in different professions and contributing more than $4 billion annually to Yemen.
Recently, KSRelief Supervisor General Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah said that Yemen is the primary beneficiary of Saudi humanitarian programs, without discrimination between government or Iran-backed Houthi-controlled territories, Al-Rabeeah said.
A total of 345 projects worth $12 billion were launched in the country in the past four years, he added. These focused on humanitarian programs and economic development aid, including support for the Yemen Central Bank.

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