RIYADH: The Saudi-led coalition in Yemen on Sunday intercepted and destroyed three armed drones and a ballistic missile launched by the Iran-backed Houthi militia targeting Khamis Mushayt and Jazan in the south of the Kingdom.
The coalition said it would take “necessary operational measures” to protect civilians in line with international law. The Houthis have stepped up missile and drone strikes against Saudi Arabia in recent months. They have rejected a Saudi proposal for a ceasefire, and demanded the reopening of Sanaa airport for unchecked flights to and from Iran.
The new attacks on Sunday came as fierce fighting for Yemen’s strategic Marib city killed 70 pro-government and Houthi fighters in the past 24 hours, with battles raging on three fronts.
The Houthis have been trying to capture Marib since February. It is the center of an oil-rich region and is the government’s last bastion in northern Yemen.
pro-government military spokesmen said the Houthis were launching simultaneous attacks in the areas of Kassara and Al-Mashjah, northwest of the city, and Jabal Murad in the south.
“They have made progress on the Kassara and Al-Mashjah fronts, but they have been thwarted on the Jabal Murad front,” he said. Coalition warplanes launched airstrikes that “destroyed 12 Houthi military vehicles, including four tanks, and a cannon,” the spokesman said.
UN officials fear the loss of Marib could lead to humanitarian disaster, as civilians displaced from fighting elsewhere have sought refuge there. About 140 sites have sprung up to provide shelter for up to 2 million displaced people.
Yousef Al-Othaimeen, secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) condemned the attacks and said they constituted “war crimes and a flagrant defiance of international laws, norms and agreement.”
The UAE also denounced the attacks and urged the international community to take an “immediate and decisive stance to stop these repeated acts targeting vital and civilian installations, the Kingdom’s security, energy supplies and global economic stability.”
The Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said the recent continuation of these attacks is a dangerous escalation, and new evidence that the Houthis seek to undermine security and stability in the region.
Bahrain also called on the international community to condemn these attacks that threaten regional and international security and stability.