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Yemen's Houthis Claim Responsibility for Missile Strike on Saudi-Coalition Airbase

Soldiers carry a body after a missile attack on a military parade during a graduation ceremony for newly recruited troopers in Aden, Yemen Aug. 1, 2019.

Yemen's Houthis are claiming responsibility for a ballistic missile strike that tore through a military parade at a Saudi-coalition airbase near Aden Thursday, killing dozens. A suicide bomber also blew himself up near a police compound in the city, killing over half a dozen people.

Sirens went off, and military vehicles surrounded the al-Jalaa camp after a ballistic missile struck a military parade at the Saudi-led coalition airbase in the south of Yemen. Dozens of people were killed or wounded in the explosion, including cadets and top officers, according to Arab media. Yemen's Houthi militia group claimed responsibility for the attack.

Pro-Houthi media said the group's military spokesman, Col. Yahya Sariee, claimed that his forces had fired the ballistic missile. Sariee was quoted Wednesday by a pro-Houthi TV station as saying the group would avenge several Saudi attacks on Houthi-controlled territory.

Houthi rebels fighters chant slogans following a gathering aimed at mobilizing more fighters in Sana’a, Yemen, Aug. 1, 2019.
Houthi rebels fighters chant slogans following a gathering aimed at mobilizing more fighters in Sana’a, Yemen, Aug. 1, 2019.

The TV quotes Sariee as saying that Saudi-coalition attacks on civilians in a market and other similar attacks would not go un-avenged.

Lebanese-based al Mayadeen TV, which is close to Iran, Hezbollah and Syria, claimed that the Houthis now have a sophisticated operations control center to attack Saudi-led coalition targets inside Yemen, as well as on Saudi soil. VOA could not independently confirm the claim.

A suicide bomber also blew himself up in front of a police station in Aden in a second attack, which may or may not have been related to the first. Saudi-owned Al Arabiya TV claimed that Saudi-led coalition forces received information that the Houthis were planning to target Aden with vehicles driven by suicide bombers earlier this week.

The prime minister of Yemen's internationally recognized government of President Abdrabbu Mansour Hadi claimed that the suicide bombing was an indication that "the Houthis have ties to terrorist groups operating in Yemen."

The Houthis have claimed responsibility for a number of drone strikes on Saudi territory in recent months, including at least three successful attacks on Abha Airport in the south of the country, and at least two drone strikes on oil-pumping stations on the Yanbu pipeline. U.S. officials say the latter attack may have been launched from Iraq, rather than Yemen.

Hilal Khashan, who teaches political science at the American University of Beirut, told VOA that the Houthis "use a combination of missiles and drones in their long-range attacks, and that their primary objective is to inflict as many casualties as possible."

He added, "The Houthis always have a reason to hit back [at the Saudi-coalition]," because of what he calls the "indiscriminate nature of [Saudi-led coalition] war effort."