Houthis threaten to target Saudi military sites following strikes
Yemen’s Houthi rebels have threatened to target government and military sites inside Saudi Arabia in response to a major military operation launched on Thursday by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen against the Houthis.
The Houthis’ military spokesman, Brigadier Yahya Al-Sari’, told the Yemeni rebels’ TV station Al-Masirah late on Thursday evening that Yemen “had been under comprehensive attack since March 2015 and the [Houthi] armed forces are capable of defending Yemen.”
“Our capabilities are better today than they were in the past, and we haven’t used all our power, capacities, and capabilities yet, and the enemy should realize this,” he added.
In 2015, the Houthi rebels, who are backed by Iran, took control of the Yemeni capital Sana’a from the internationally-recognized government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, which is now in exile. The same year, a Saudi-led Arab coalition intervened to support Hadi’s government.
Since then Yemen, which is the Arab world’s poorest country, has lived through a brutal and complex war, which has also seen the Hadi government’s authority challenged by UAE-backed separatists in southern Yemen.
On Thursday, the spokesman of the Saudi-led coalition, Turki al-Maliki, said that Saudi Arabia had launched a new operation against the Houthis in response to the Houthis’ launch of ballistic missiles and drones towards Saudi Arabia from Sana’a and the Houthi stronghold of Saada in northern Yemen.
"The terrorist leaders of the Houthi militia... will be pursued and held accountable. Targeting civilians and civilian facilities is a red line," al-Maliki said.
Al-Sari’ claimed that the Houthis had launched four ballistic missiles and eight drones at Saudi Arabia striking security and military bases on Monday, but the coalition said that all the missiles and drones were intercepted before hitting their targets.
The Houthis also said on Thursday that 57 airstrikes had hit Sana’a and Saada on Thursday, killing a woman and a girl and wounding a number of children. There was no confirmation from the coalition.
Al-Sari’ added on Thursday evening that the Houthis’ would continue to target military and government sites in Saudi Arabia “avoiding any harm to the [Saudi] people who we know are oppressed under the rule of the Al-Saud family”.
He accused the US of being behind the Saudi attack on Yemen, saying that Saudi Arabia and the UAE were “merely tools” of the US, while mocking a threat by coalition spokesman Al-Maliki to “cut off the hands” of Houthi leaders who ordered strikes on Saudi Arabia.
“Threats will be of no use against the free and resisting Yemeni people. If the language of threat had worked, the [Saudi] attack wouldn’t have lasted until today”, Al-Sari’ said.