Saudi Arabia announces large-scale military operation in Yemen

After the death of two people killed in an attack claimed by Houthi rebels in the Saudi kingdom, Saudi Arabia announced on Saturday (December 25th) that it would launch a military operation  » in large scale «  in Yemen.

“A projectile fell on a commercial building, killing two people, a Saudi and a Yemeni resident. He injured seven civilians, including six Saudis and a Bangladeshi resident ”, said an official Saudi statement. The Houthis said in a statement to have launched three ballistic missiles. Yahya Sare’e, their military spokesperson, in a statement threatened the Saudi kingdom with« Painful operations » if he continued « His aggression and his crimes ».

Riyadh has been operating in Yemen since 2015 at the head of a coalition to support government forces, at war for seven years against the Houthi rebels. The latter, close to Iran, often strike Saudi territory from Yemen. While Yemeni rebels regularly launch missiles and drones into neighboring Saudi Arabia, targeting its airports and oil infrastructure, this is the first deadly attack to hit the kingdom since 2018.

In retaliation, Riyadh carried out a series of bombings northwest of the rebel-held Yemeni capital, Sanaa. Three people were killed and six others were injured, Yemeni doctors say.

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Drone attacks, air strikes

In recent times, the fighting has intensified, with Saudi airstrikes on Sana’a, due to which the airport of the capital, under Saudi blockade since 2016, can no longer accommodate since Tuesday the planes of humanitarian organizations and the UN. Riyadh says it is responding to drone attacks fomented from this airport.

Yemenis inspect damage from a Saudi-led coalition airstrike in the Houthi rebel-held capital Sanaa on December 24, 2021.

Since the capture of Sana’a in 2014, the Houthis have captured most of northern Yemen, despite Saudi intervention. On Thursday, the coalition, which had targeted a Houthi military camp in Sana’a the day before, said it had destroyed a drone bomb targeting Abha airport in southern Saudi Arabia, without causing any casualties.

On the same day, the US Navy announced the seizure of 1,400 AK-47 assault rifles and ammunition from a fishing boat that it said left Iran for the Yemeni rebels. Tehran recognizes its political support for the rebels but denies providing them with weapons.

Over 370,000 dead

Pope Francis, during his traditional overview of the conflicts of the planet on the occasion of his Christmas message, recalled the « Immense tragedies » and « Forgotten » in Yemen and Syria. « We hear the cry of children rising from Yemen, where a terrible tragedy, forgotten by everyone, has been unfolding in silence for years, killing people every day », said the pontiff from St. Peter’s Square in Rome.

According to the UN, the war in Yemen has caused the deaths of 377,000 people, more than half of them due to the indirect consequences of the conflict, including lack of clean water, hunger and disease. A Yemeni child under 5 dies every nine minutes as a result of the conflict.

On Wednesday, the UN said  » constraint «  to reduce food aid in Yemen for lack of necessary funds, at a time of increasing hunger. The country is ravaged by one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, with around 80% of Yemen’s more than 30 million people dependent on international aid.

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Le Monde with AFP and Reuters

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