By Zakaria al-Kamaali
SANA’A, Yemen (AA): The leader of Yemen’s Houthi group said Friday that it had begun manufacturing unmanned aerial drones and surface-to-air missiles (SAMs).
In a statement broadcast by Yemen’s Houthi-run Al-Maseera television channel, Abdul-Malik al-Houthi said the group was now “manufacturing artillery shells and air defenses”.
These, he said, included surface-to-air missiles capable of downing warplanes used by a Saudi-led military coalition, which continues to support Yemen’s Saudi-backed government against the Houthis and their allies.
Some of these missiles, al-Houthi asserted, were capable of hitting targets inside Saudi territory “and beyond”.
His remarks came one week after the military of the United Arab Emirates — a member of the Saudi-led coalition — said it had shot down a Houthi drone over Yemen’s strategic port city of Mocha.
Yemen has been wracked by chaos since 2014, when Ansar Allah [the Houthis] and allied forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh overran capital Sanaa and other parts of the country.
The conflict escalated in 2015 when Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies launched an extensive air campaign aimed at reversing Houthi military gains and shoring up Yemen’s Saudi-backed government.
Since the Saudi-led coalition began its bombing campaign in Yemen in March 2015, there has been an average of 13 civilian casualties a day, according to the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. (The U.N. uses the word casualty to refer to both deaths and injuries.)
The U.N. and human rights organizations have thoroughly documented atrocities committed by the Western-backed coalition and have accused it of committing war crimes. Despite these reports, the U.S. continues to reaffirm its close alliance with its repressive Saudi ally and sell it weapons.
About 3,800 Yemeni civilians have been killed and more than 6,000 have been injured in the war, according to the U.N.
Additional report by Agencies
[Archive Photo: Saudi-led bomb civilan area under Houthi control in Babul area in Sana’a on 19 September, 2015. Photographer: Mohammed Hamoud/AA]