‘Yemen’s Houthi militia using Iranian-made drone aircraft’: Arab coalition

Arab coalition spokesperson Col. Turki Al-Maliki holds a press conference at the King Salman airbase in Riyadh. (SPA)
Updated 21 January 2019

‘Yemen’s Houthi militia using Iranian-made drone aircraft’: Arab coalition

  • Col. Turki Al-Maliki said the Houthis have used the aircraft to carry out a number of attacks
  • Al-Maliki said a coalition military operation that was conducted in Sanaa on Saturday night

JEDDAH: The Arab coalition on Sunday said the Houthi militia are in possession of Iranian-made drones “Shahed 129” and are using residential areas to hide the aircraft.
On Saturday night, the Arab coalition destroyed seven Houthi drone facilities in Sanaa in an airstrike.
Addressing a press conference in Riyadh on Sunday, coalition spokesman Col. Turki Al-Maliki said the attack followed an extensive intelligence-gathering operation that monitored movements of the Houthi militia and helped identify the Iranian-backed group’s operational and logistical infrastructure.
Targets included drone storage areas, manufacturing and repair workshops, and launch platforms, as well as training facilities for terrorist operations, he said.
He added: “We attacked a helicopter platform belonging to the Houthi militia in an area between Sanaa and Saada.”
Al-Maliki confirmed that Iran had provided the Houthi militia with “Ababil-T drones.”
Al-Maliki said the military strike was carried out in accordance with international humanitarian law. The coalition’s Joint Forces Command took all necessary precautions to protect civilians and avoid collateral damage, he added.
Al-Maliki reaffirmed the commitment of the coalition’s Joint Forces Command to international humanitarian law in all military operations, and said the coalition would continue to deny Houthi militia and terrorist groups access to capabilities that threaten regional and international security.
He said the Houthis have used drones to carry out a number of attacks and are using Sanaa airport for military purposes.
 He also showed videos and pictures of Saturday’s operations against the militia group in Sanaa, models of aircraft used by the Houthis in their attacks and the bombing of a cave used by the Iran-backed terrorist group as a command center in Sanaa.

20 Houthis killed
More than 20 Houthis were killed in military operations carried out by the Yemeni army backed by the coalition’s air support in Taiz.
A Yemeni military source said the Arab coalition conducted airstrikes killing five Houthis, injuring others. A vehicle laden with ammunition was also destroyed in the joint operation.
“Nine more militants were killed by the Yemeni army’s artillery shelling, which targeted a meeting held by the militia at a farm, the source added. He confirmed that Houthi commanders were among those killed.
“The Yemeni army also targeted reinforcements of the militia near Al-Rawd School killing and injuring a number of insurgents.”
“Multiple infiltration attempts were thwarted by the Yemeni armed forces west of the city, while two Houthis were killed in a failed infiltration attempt targeting Al-Tashrifat military camp in eastern Taiz,” the source said.
The airstrikes late Saturday were the first by the coalition in Sanaa since a deal reached last month between coalition-backed government and the Houthis, which have been at war since 2014.
The deal provided for a cease-fire and a withdrawal of rival forces from the contested port city of Hodeidah on the Red Sea as well as an exchange of prisoners, but the implementation has run into difficulties.
Earlier this month, a bomb-laden drone launched by the Houthis targeted a military parade near the government-held city of Aden on the Arabian Sea, killing at least seven people, including the commander of military intelligence.


US considering troop boost to counter Iran

Updated 27 min 12 sec ago

US considering troop boost to counter Iran

  • A source has said Defense Secretary Mark Esper was considering plans to move between 5,000 and 7,000 troops to the Middle East
  • Tensions have risen sharply with Iran since Trump last year pulled out of a denuclearization pact and imposed sweeping sanctions

WASHINGTON: The United States said Thursday it was considering deploying fresh forces to counter Iran, with an official saying some 5,000 to 7,000 troops could head to the region.
Testifying before Congress, John Rood, the under secretary of defense for policy, said the United States was “observing Iran’s behavior with concern.”
“We’re continuing to look at that threat picture and have the ability to dynamically adjust our force posture,” Rood told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
A US official told AFP on condition of anonymity that Defense Secretary Mark Esper was considering plans to move between 5,000 and 7,000 troops to the Middle East.
The official did not confirm where the troops would be sent, or in what timeframe, but said that the deployment would be due to frustrations with Iranian-linked groups’ attacks on US assets.
Rood, under questioning, denied a report by The Wall Street Journal the United States was considering sending 14,000 more troops — equivalent to the number sent over the past six months.
Esper also denied the 14,000 figure in a phone call with Senator Jim Inhofe, the chairman of the committee, Pentagon spokeswoman Alyssa Farah said.
US President Donald Trump later tweeted that: “The story today that we are sending 12,000 troops to Saudi Arabia is false or, to put it more accurately, Fake News!“
It was not immediately clear which report the president was referring to.
Tensions have risen sharply with Iran since Trump last year pulled out of a denuclearization pact and imposed sweeping sanctions, including trying to block all its oil exports.
In September, the United States said Iran was responsible for attacks on the major Abqaiq oil processing center in Saudi Arabia, a close US ally and Iran’s regional rival.
Riyadh then asked Washington for reinforcements, receiving two fighter squadrons, additional missile defense batteries, and bringing the number of US troops stationed in the Kingdom to about 3,000.
The United States has also been alarmed by an uptick in attacks on bases in Iraq, where major demonstrations triggered by economic discontent have also targeted Iran’s clerical regime and its overwhelming influence in its Shiite-majority neighbor.
“We’re lucky no one has been killed. There is a spike in rocket attacks,” another US official said.
“It’s clearly not Daesh. Everything is going in the right direction and it’s the right range,” the official said, contrasting Iranian capabilities with those of the extremist Daesh group.
Among the incidents, five rockets hit the Al-Asad Air Base on Tuesday, just four days after US Vice President Mike Pence visited US troops there.
Iran denied involvement in the September attack in Saudi Arabia, which was claimed by Tehran-backed Houthi militia.
The tensions come as Iran itself has faced major protests set off by a sharp hike in gas prices.