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UN alarmed by Houthi drone attack
January 12, 2019
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ADEN: The UN envoy to Yemen said he was “alarmed” over the escalation of violence after a rebel drone attack on the country’s largest airbase.

In tweets posted overnight on Thursday Martin Griffiths urged all parties to Yemen’s protracted conflict to exercise restraint.

The Houthi rebels said they carried out the strike which hit a military parade at Al Anad air base, in government-held Lahij province some 60km north of Yemen’s second city Aden.

Griffiths tweeted that he was “alarmed by today’s (Thursday) 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 drone strike drew condemnation from the United Arab Emirates, a key contributor to the Saudi-led military coalition fighting the rebels.

The “murderous drone attack tells you everything you need about the 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 Houthis for the slow progress of peace efforts.

The parade was taking place inside a military base in Al Anad district when an explosion rocked the area, witnesses said. They said high-ranking officers including Yemen’s deputy chief of staff had been wounded.

A military source said the focus of the attack had been the podium where senior officers were sitting.

The attack comes as the UN, which brokered several agreements between the rebels 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.

In Sweden, the warring sides agreed truce deals for the key rebel-held aid port of Hodeidah and for battleground third city Taez.

The ceasefire only applies to Hodeidah province but the British ambassador to Yemen, Michael Aron, tweeted on Thursday that an escalation anywhere in Yemen “goes against the spirit of the Stockholm agreement.”

The war between the Houthis and loyalist troops escalated in March 2015, when President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi fled into Saudi exile, prompting the Saudi-led coalition to intervene.

The Houthis deny getting any help from Iran and say they are waging a revolution against corruption.

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.


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