Deadliest Day for Saudi-Led Coalition in Yemen

Deadliest Day for Saudi-Led Coalition in Yemen
Deadliest Day for Saudi-Led Coalition in Yemen

In its deadliest battle ever, the United Arab Emirates forces have lost at least 45 soldiers fighting among the Saudi-led coalition engaged in Yemen, after Houthi rebels reportedly fired a rocket into a weapons warehouse at a military camp.

The deadly incident took place in the oil-producing Marib area of central Yemen, allegedly after the Houthi missile struck an ammunitions depot. At least 22 Emirati soldiers were killed on the spot while 23 others died of wounds hours later, UAE state news agency WAM reported.

“A rocket and an explosion at a weapons cache havetargeted the martyrs,” UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said on Twitter, RT reported.

The Houthi official confirmed that their fighters fired a Soviet-era Tochka missile in the area.

In a separate incident, five Bahraini soldiers were killed while “defending the southern border of Saudi Arabia,” Bahrain’s official news agency BNA said.

So far, the UAE is the only country that has acknowledged its troops to be on the ground in fighting in Yemen.

Friday’s death toll for UAE military is the largest the country’s forces have ever faced after being founded as a state in 1971. The previous death toll stood at six soldiers, all of whom died in combat in Kuwait in 1991.

  Inclusive Government?

Meanwhile in US, President Barack Obama hosted Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and expressed hope for an inclusive, functioning government in Yemen, but failed to condemn the Saudi-led operation.

“We share concerns about Yemen and the need to restore a functioning government that is inclusive and that can relieve the humanitarian situation there,” Obama told reporters.

At the same time, the UN has released a further $15 million to help ease the suffering of the civilians.

“The civilian population is bearing the brunt of the conflict: A shocking four out of five Yemenis require humanitarian assistance and nearly 1.5 million people are internally displaced,” said Stephen O’Brien, the UN under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, who is also the UN emergency relief coordinator, as he announced additional funds.

  Airstrike Hits Orphanage

An airstrike launched by the Saudi-led alliance in Yemen appears to have struck an orphanage Saturday morning in Sana’a’s al-Nahda neighbourhood, killing and injuring an unknown number of people, local medical sources told DPA.

There have been contradictory reports about the casualties, and whether they include children or not. No further details were immediately available.  

Separately, a residential building was bombarded by an airstrike earlier in the day in the Hadda area, also in Sana’a, killing three and injuring five civilians, local sources said.

Meanwhile, sources at the Health Ministry said a state of emergency was announced due to the rising number of casualties from mistaken strikes upon civilian sites since Friday.

“Due to the ongoing airstrikes, there is no way to make an exact estimation of the number of the dead and injured at this stage, but they are dozens,” a source at the ministry said.

Airstrikes against Houthi-held military sites in Sana’a and other parts of Yemen have intensified since Friday, but that has increased the possibility of them mistakenly targeting civilian areas.

The Saudi-led coalition has been launching airstrikes on Yemeni territory since March, targeting Houthi fighters and troops loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh to bring back to power president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi deposed earlier this year.