Dubai: An Al Houthi drone attack on Yemen’s largest airbase killing six loyalist soldiers has drawn condemnation from the United Arab Emirates, a key contributor to the Saudi-led military coalition fighting the militants.
The “murderous drone attack tells you everything you need about the Al Houthis. Peace negotiations are a tactic to them, not a commitment,” UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash tweeted.
“464 ceasefire violations, 36 killed & 318 wounded since (Sweden) agreement. The international community must increase pressure,” he said, blaming the Al Houthis for the slow progress of peace efforts.
Meanwhile, the UN envoy to Yemen said he was “alarmed” over the escalation of violence.
In tweets posted overnight Thursday Martin Griffiths urged all parties to Yemen’s protracted conflict to exercise restraint.
Iran-backed Al Houthi militants said they carried out the strike which hit a military parade at Al Anad air base, in government-held Lahij province some 60 kilometres north of Yemen’s second city Aden.
Six loyalist soldiers were killed and at least 12 people wounded, including top commanders, medics said.
The attack comes as the UN, which brokered several agreements between the militants and the Saudi-backed government at talks in Sweden last month, is desperately seeking to relaunch negotiations for an end to four years of devastating conflict.
Griffiths tweeted that he was “alarmed by Thursday’s escalation of violence in Yemen”.
He urged “all parties to the conflict to exercise restraint and refrain from further escalation” and to “create a conducive environment to maintain the positive momentum generated” in Sweden.
The UN was hoping last month’s talks in Sweden would help launch formal peace talks between Yemen’s warring parties.
Thursday’s attack is likely to create a new obstacle for those efforts.
In Sweden, the warring sides agreed truce deals for the key militant-held aid port of Hodeida and for battleground third city Taiz.
The war between Al Houthis and Yemen’s legitimate government started in 2014 after an Al Houthi coup unseated internationally-recognised president Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi in Sana’a.
He escaped house arrest and set up temporary government headquarters in Aden.
Saudi Arabia formed an Arab coalition, along with the UAE and other Arab states, to counter Iran’s expansionism in Yemen and restore the legitimate government.
The conflict has killed nearly 10,000 people and pushed some 14 million Yemenis to the brink of famine in the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, according to the United Nations.