Houthi claims of UAE airport drone attacks were ‘propaganda fabrications’

Houthi militia claims that they attacked UAE airports with drones are probably “propaganda fabrications,” according to a report from investigative website Bellingcat. (AFP)
Updated 08 November 2018
0

Houthi claims of UAE airport drone attacks were ‘propaganda fabrications’

  • Bellingcat report debunks Houthi claims of drone attacks on UAE airports
  • The report also implicated Iran in arming the Houthis, citing the militia’s use or Iranian-made drones

LONDON: Houthi militia claims that they attacked UAE airports with drones are probably “propaganda fabrications,” according to a report from investigative website Bellingcat.
The alleged attacks had been used by the Iran-backed Houthis as a tool to give the impression they had the capability of attacking strategic sites inside the Emirates, the report by risk consultant Khalil Dewan said.
In July and August, Houthi media claimed that Abu Dhabi and Dubai airports had been targeted by their forces with Sammad-3 drones. The claims, which were denied by the UAE, were also found to be baseless by the Bellingcat investigation.
The report also implicated Iran in arming the Houthis, citing the militia’s use of Hudhuh-1, Qasef-1 and Sammad unmanned craft, all of which “resemble Iranian-made drones.”
“The Houthi’s primary method (of propaganda) is to show they have the capability to strike the UAE,” the report said.
On both occasions of the alleged attacks, flights continued to operate unaffected — despite claims by the Houthis of flights redirecting from Abu Dhabi to Dubai.
The UAE General Civil Aviation Authority at the time denied the claims and said air traffic was operating as usual.
The Bellingcat report cited the lack of mobile footage captured by passengers of disruptions as they traveled through the airports as evidence that the attack did not take place.
“The disruption that occurred and the scale of it would not suggest that a lethal attack occurred,” the report said.
The report also debunked Houthi claims that drone attacks had been carried out in Saudi Arabia.
Charts and infographics released by the militia list alleged drone operations in the Kingdom between December 2017 and July 2018, as well as the type of drones supposedly deployed.
While the drones may have entered Saudi Arabian airspace, the Bellingcat report said it was unlikely the drones actually carried out strikes.
On April 11, Saudi Arabia’s air defense systems downed two Houthi drones in the south at Abha International Airport and Jazan. According to Arab Coalition spokesman, Col. Turki Al-Maliki, an “unidentified body” flew toward Abha International Airport but was destroyed.
Al-Maliki confirmed the remnants appeared to be those of a Houthi drone. On the same day in Jazan, Saudi defense forces destroyed another Houthi drone and according to Al-Maliki, the drone was identical to the remnants of the one downed at Abha International Airport.
According to a Conflict Armament Research report, the use of drones shows the Houthis’ ability to use “low-cost technology” against the Arab coalition’s “sophisticated military assets,” but that the use of the Iranian-designed Qasef-1 drones supports the claim that Iran is arming the Houthis in Yemen.


Syrian refugees wade through their worst Lebanese winter

A child wades through flood waters at an informal tent settlement housing Syrian refugees following winter storms in the area of Delhamiyeh. (AFP)
Updated 18 January 2019
0

Syrian refugees wade through their worst Lebanese winter

  • Aid organizations say they are doing their best to distribute emergency aid to the most vulnerable
  • The Litani River flooded many of the fields stretching across the two majestic mountain ranges flanking the Bekaa

DELHAMIYEH, Lebanon: Snowstorms and weeks of bad weather have turned Lebanon’s lush Bekaa Valley into an unliveable swamp for tens of thousands of Syrian refugees.

The Litani River flooded many of the fields stretching across the two majestic mountain ranges flanking the Bekaa after this year’s second major storm hit on Wednesday.

Some families had barely finished repairing their tents when the most severe winter they have faced yet unleashed another crushing night of snow, wind and flooding.

“We spent all night emptying the tent but the water kept coming in,” said Thaer Ibrahim Mohammed, a red and white headscarf wrapped around his head.

“This is the worst winter,” said the greying man.

Gaggles of children made the most of the afternoon sun and pulled rubber boots on their bare feet to romp in the camp’s sludgy alleys and have snowball fights.

The shelters in “Camp 040,” which lies on the edge of the village of Delhamiyeh and is one of the many informal settlements that dot the valley, are all the same.

They were erected on concrete slabs and their roofs are held down with used tires.

Their tarpaulin walls provide a flimsy protection against strong winds and freezing temperatures.

The camp looks like it could have sprung up just weeks earlier but many of its residents have lived there since 2012, when the Syrian conflict escalated.

Abu Ahmad, a native of Homs spending his seventh winter in Lebanon, said aid was inadequate.

“This year there was a lot of rain. But humanitarian organizations have reduced aid,” he said, standing on a brick placed as a stepping stone in a muddy puddle.

“You just need to look: Do you think this sheeting keeps us warm or keeps the water out? They gave us nothing, no new tarps, no firewood, nothing,” the young man said.

Aid organizations say they are doing their best to distribute emergency aid to the most vulnerable among the estimated 340,000 refugees living in the Bekaa Valley.

The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said close to 24,000 people were affected by extreme weather conditions.

Some tents were destroyed by the storms that elsewhere in Lebanon have cut the main road to Syria several times, flooded the highway north of Beirut and forced schools to close.

Relief agencies have had to relocate families who were left homeless, once again, in several feet of snow.

Fatima, a 20-year-old refugee originally from the main northern Syrian city of Aleppo, had to leave her tent with her family but opted to squeeze in with neighbors.

“The tent is totally flooded, we can’t live in it. So we took our things and left, what else can we do?”