In a serious escalation of violence in the region, a Saudi-led coalition carried out air strikes in the Yemeni capital Sanaa in response to a deadly drone strike yesterday in which Houthis targeted Abu Dhabi.
At least 20 people were killed in the strikes including women and children, according to the deputy foreign minister for the Houthi administration. Saudi state media said that the air raids began early on Tuesday against strongholds in Sanaa, belonging to the Iran-backed Houthi group.
The raids were conducted “in response to the threat and (out of) military necessity,” the official Saudi Press Agency stated on Twitter.
Reuters reported at least 14 casualties in one strike that targeted the home of a former Yemeni military commander. It appears to be the deadliest Saudi-led operation on rebel-held Sanaa since 2019.
The attack comes after Iran-backed Houthi rebels targeted Abu Dhabi on Monday. The militia used missiles and drones and set off explosions in fuel trucks, causing a fire near the airport. Two Indians and a Pakistani working for the UAE oil giant, ADNOC, were killed, and six others were injured.
UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah Bin Zayed has asked U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to re-designate the Houthi movement in Yemen as a terrorist organization, Axios reported.
The Biden administration reversed the Trump-era terrorist designation of the Houthis a month after entering the White House. The decision came after President Joe Biden announced an end to American support for the Saudi-led coalition’s operations in Yemen against the Houthis.
The UAE said it reserved the right to respond to “terrorist attacks and criminal escalation.” Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman condemned the attack and made a phone call to his Abu Dhabi counterpart Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed.
The two princes called on the international community to stand up to “these flagrant violations of international law and norms and to reject and condemn these terrorist crimes that threaten regional and international peace and security,” according to a Saudi Press Agency statement.
Saudi Deputy Minister for Defense Prince Khalid bin Salman highlighted Iran’s continued support of the Houthi militia in Yemen as a violation of UN resolutions.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE intervened in Yemen’s civil war in 2015, a year after the northern-based Houthis took over the capital Sanaa and removed President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi from power. In recent years, the UAE has scaled down its military presence in the Yemen war.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett condemned the attack and sent condolences to the victims’ families in the UAE.
“Israel stands with the UAE. I stand with Mohammed bin Zayed. The world should stand against terror,” he said.