Over the past few days, the Saudi-led Arab coalition has carried out targeted air strikes on Al Houthi targets in the Yemeni capital of Sana’a that are being used to store heavy weapons and launch terrorist attacks on the border towns of Saudi Arabia.
Part of the strikes targeted specific sites in Sana’a Airport, controlled by the Al Houthi group since the war in Yemen began in 2014. Coalition spokesperson Brigadier General Turki Al Maliki said the targets included sites used by the terror group for launching attacks by drones, training drone personnel, housing trainers and trainees, and storing drones. “Destroying these targets will not have any effect on the operational capacity of the airport, and will not affect managing the airspace, the air traffic, and ground handling operations,” he said in a statement.
The retaliatory strikes, done according to international humanitarian law according to the coalition, follows terror attacks on Friday with projectiles by the group on the town of Samtah, in southwestern Jazan region, which killed two people, wounded seven others and damaged shops and vehicles in the residential area. There was an international outrage and governments worldwide condemned the terror attack.
The United States described the attack as “horrific”, calling on Al Houthis to “end their reckless attacks on the people of Saudi Arabia and to engage under UN auspices to end this conflict and bring peace to the people of Yemen”. The Arab League, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the UAE all in statements condemned the “cowardly” attacks and said the perpetrators must be held accountable.
The attacks are just the latest of crimes committed by the group since its takeover of the Capital Sana’a in September 2014, leading to the collapse of the internationally recognised government and seven years of fighting that has left thousands of Yemenis dead, plunging the county to the brink of famine. These attacks have coincided with indiscriminate attacks with ballistic missiles on the Yemeni city of Marib.
The coalition has been exercising utmost restraint in the past few years in order to help the United Nations’ efforts to end the war. Saudi Arabia also presented a peace initiative that would end the civil war in Yemen and reunite the country. However, Al Houthis, supported by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and the Lebanese Hezbollah militias, have blocked all these efforts thereby prolonging the war and the suffering of the Yemeni people.
It continues to launch cross-border attacks that threaten regional security and stability despite its main backer, Iran’s claim to pursue friendly relations with its Gulf neighbours and policy of de-escalation.
The international community must assume its responsibility in ending the reckless and terrorist actions by Al Houthis, including designating them as a terror group and censuring Iran’s continuous supply of arms and drones to the group, in violation of a UN arms embargo.