JEDDAH: Airstrikes on a site in Yemen used by militants to launch missiles toward Saudi Arabia were “legitimate,” the Arab coalition said Thursday, as it was confirmed that a number of Houthi field commanders had been killed.
The Saudi-led coalition said air raids on Saada in northwestern Yemen, a stronghold of the Iran-backed Houthis, complied with international humanitarian laws.
Spokesman Col. Turki Al-Malki said the military action was targeted at militants who planned an attack with the aim of harming civilians, by attempting to launch a missile toward Jazan in southern Saudi Arabia.
“The targeting on Thursday in the province of Saada is a legitimate military operation to target elements that planned and executed the targeting of civilians last night in the city of Jazan,” he said.
“(The operation) was carried in accordance to international humanitarian law and customary rules, and the coalition will take all procedures against the criminal and terror acts by the terrorist Houthi militia affiliated with Iran.”
The attempted Houthi missile attack, intercepted by Saudi Royal Air Defense forces, killed one civilian and injured 11 others in Yemen on Wednesday evening, Saudi state news agency SPA and the coalition said.
Al-Maliki said the missile was fired toward Jazan “in a deliberate way to target residential and populated areas,” and explicitly violating international humanitarian law.
Late on Thursday, another ballistic missile fell inside Yemen after the Houthis attempted to launch it towards Najran.
The Houthis have launched a series of missile strikes on Saudi Arabia, including Riyadh, over the past year.
The spokesman said the Western-backed Arab coalition would continue to take all measures to maintain regional and international security.
A coalition source quoted by the Al Arabiya News Channel said that a number of Houthi field commanders were killed in a raid on Thursday morning.
They included prominent recruiters of young people in Yemen to fight on behalf of the Houthis. The Iran-backed militia have a history of recruiting child soldiers.
Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies entered the war in Yemen in 2015 against the Houthis, who drove the internationally recognized government into exile in 2014.