Saudi-led coalition intercepts 10 Huthi drones

By: AFP      Published: 04:13 PM, 7 Mar, 2021
Saudi-led coalition intercepts 10 Huthi drones

A Saudi-led military coalition intercepted 10 drones launched by Yemen's Huthi rebels on Sunday, state media reported, in a sharp escalation in cross-border attacks on the kingdom.

The coalition -- fighting in Yemen alongside an internationally recognised government against the insurgents -- said the drones were aimed at "civilian" targets in Saudi Arabia, the official Saudi Press Agency reported, without specifying the locations.

The Iran-backed rebels have stepped up attacks on Saudi Arabia in recent weeks, while they escalate an offensive in Yemen to seize the government's last northern stronghold of Marib.

The escalation comes even after the United States last month delisted the Huthis as terrorists and stepped up efforts to de-escalate the six-year conflict.

The terror designation, imposed late in the administration of former US president Donald Trump, had been widely criticised by aid organisations, who warned it would hamper their efforts to alleviate a humanitarian crisis in Yemen.

"The removal of the Huthis from the list of terrorist groups has been interpreted in a hostile way by the militia," SPA cited the coalition as saying.

The coalition added that their "victories" in Marib had prompted the rebels to step up attacks on the kingdom. 

On Saturday, Yemeni government sources said fierce fighting between pro-government Yemeni forces and the rebels in oil-rich Marib had left at least 90 combatants on the two sides dead over the span of 24 hours.

Years of bombing have failed to shake the rebels' hold on Yemen's capital Sanaa, and they have steadily expanded their reach in the country's north.

US President Joe Biden halted support to Saudi offensive operations in Yemen's war, which he called a "catastrophe" that "has to end". 

But he also reiterated US support for Saudi Arabia in defending its territory. 

The grinding conflict has claimed tens of thousands of lives and displaced millions, according to international organisations, sparking what the UN calls the world's worst humanitarian crisis.