DUBAI (Reuters) – The Saudi-led coalition engaged in Yemen said on Sunday that it destroyed 10 armed drones launched by the Iran-aligned huthi movement, including at least five fired towards Saudi Arabia, state television channels reported.
The coalition did not specify locations in the kingdom but said the drones were aimed at “civilian sites”. On Saturday, the coalition said it intercepted seven drones over 24 hours launched towards Khamis Mushait and one towards Jazan, both in southern Saudi Arabia.
The huthis, who have been battling the coalition since it intervened in Yemen’s civil war in March 2015, recently stepped up cross-border missile and drone attacks on Saudi Arabia.
Fighting has also intensified on the ground in Yemen in Marib and Taiz regions.
The television channels cited the coalition as saying the escalation in huthi attacks was a result of the coalition’s “victories” in Marib and because of the huthi’s “hostile interpretation” of a decision by the new US administration in February to revoke terrorist designations on the group.
The United States and the United Nations have stepped up diplomatic efforts to end the conflict, which is largely seen in the region as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
Last week, the Treasury Department imposed sanctions on two huthi military leaders in the first punitive action against the group taken by President Joe Biden’s administration.
The huthis, who ousted the internationally recognised government from power in the capital, Sanaa, in late 2014, deny being puppets of Tehran and say they are fighting a corrupt system and foreign aggression.
The war, in a military stalemate for years, has killed tens of thousands of people and pushed Yemen to the brink of famine.
Medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres said on Friday that Al-Thawra hospital in Taiz treated 28 people wounded in intense clashes since Wednesday and that the hospital itself was hit by gun fire, injuring three, including a 12-year-old boy.
In Marib, the government’s last northern stronghold, hundreds of fighters from both sides have been killed.
Reporting by Ghaida Ghantous; Editing by Christopher Cushing, William Mallard and Louise Heavens