Emirates: Houthi rebels in Yemen claim deadly attack

L’A tank truck explosion killed three people Monday in Abu Dhabi, police said in the Emirati capital, while Yemeni Houthi rebels announced a “major military operation” in the United Arab Emirates. The explosion of the three tankers took place “near the storage tanks of ADNOC”, the oil company of Abu Dhabi, and resulted in the death of a Pakistani and two Indians, according to the official agency WAM , which also reports “six light to moderate injuries”.

A “minor fire” also occurred in “the new construction area of ​​Abu Dhabi International Airport”, the authorities having not reported any casualties. The explosion and fire were “probably” caused by “drones”, with “flying objects” having “fallen” on the affected scene, WAM said, citing Abu Dhabi police, who launched a ” extensive investigation.

The attack claimed by the Houthi rebels

Houthi rebels in Yemen claimed responsibility for the deadly attack later in the day. “The armed forces (of the Houthis) carried out a qualitative and successful military operation within the framework of an operation dubbed Yemen Hurricane,” said their spokesman Yahya Saree in a statement broadcast on their Al-Massira channel.

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“Many important and sensitive Emirati sites and facilities” were targeted with ballistic missiles and drones, he said. They threatened to launch new attacks, calling on civilians and foreign companies to avoid “vital sites” in this country. “We warn foreign companies, citizens and residents of the enemy state of the Emirates that they should stay away from vital sites for their own safety,” the Houthis’ military spokesman added.

Condemnation from the international community

The attack on the Emirates, which warned that it would “not go unpunished”, drew international condemnation from Arab and Western countries, led by the United States, as well as from the UN. The Emirates are members of a Saudi-led military coalition that has supported government forces in Yemen since 2015 at war against the Iran-backed Houthis.

In response to the Houthi attack, the first to kill on Emirati soil, this coalition announced that it had carried out air raids on Sanaa, the capital of Yemen in the hands of the insurgents. No indication could be obtained immediately on possible victims. Allies of the Emirates, the United States promised to “hold the Houthis to account” after the “terrorist attack”. French President Emmanuel Macron “strongly condemned” the attack and “supported the Emirates”. A little earlier, the Quai d’Orsay had considered that the attack “threatens the security of the Emirates and the stability of the region”.

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The head of the UN, Antonio Guterres, the European Union as well as Great Britain, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Iraq and Jordan have also strongly denounced it. Israel, which normalized relations with the Emirates in 2020, condemned the attack and called on the international community “to act to prevent Iran and its allies from undermining regional security”.

Conflict in Yemen escalates

A Houthi official, Abdellilah Hajar, had earlier told Agence France-Presse in Sanaa that “if the Emirates continue to attack Yemen, they will not be able to withstand painful strikes in the future”. The Houthis have in the past threatened to strike targets in the Emirates and claimed responsibility for attacks that have never been confirmed by Emirati authorities.

After distancing themselves for a time, the Emirates have relaunched their military support on the ground for pro-government forces in Yemen, supporting the “Giants” brigade which has taken over territory from the rebels. The conflict in Yemen has claimed 377,000 lives, according to the UN, and has intensified in recent weeks with an increase in military coalition raids and ground offensives by government forces. For their part, the rebels have multiplied the attacks of missiles and drones against Saudi Arabia, a neighboring country of Yemen and great regional rival of Iran.

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The coalition reported on Monday an increase in the number of “drone bombs launched by the Houthis from Sanaa International Airport” and claimed to have “intercepted and destroyed eight drones launched in the direction of the Saudi kingdom”. Since their capture of Sanaa in 2014, the rebels have managed to seize large swaths of Yemeni territory, particularly in the north.

On January 3, they seized the boat Rwabee flying the flag of the Emirates, off the Yemeni port of Hodeida (west), claiming that it was carrying weapons. The coalition assured that the boat was carrying medical equipment and denounced an act of “piracy”. Iran, which has a difficult relationship with the Emirates, openly supports the rebels while denying supplying them with weapons, which its political opponents Saudi Arabia and the United States accuse.

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