UAE says 15 coalition troops killed in Yemen attack

UAE says 15 coalition troops killed in Yemen attack
The United Arab Emirates says 15 members of the Saudi-led coalition battling rebels in Yemen have been killed in an assault on the port city of Aden on Tuesday.
3 min read
06 October, 2015

The United Arab Emirates has said that 15 Arab troops were killed on Tuesday, and blamed Yemen's Houthi rebels and their allies for the deaths. 

It did not provide nationalities for those killed. 

Yemeni officials earlier said three rockets slammed into Aden on Tuesday, including one that struck a hotel that is home to members of the country's exiled government in the biggest attack on the government since it retook the city from Houthi foes in July. 

An unknown number of people were killed or injured in the attack, which the government said it was investigating. 

Initial reports, including the official United Arab Emirates news agency, said the missiles were rocket-propelled grenades. But the newspaper Aden al-Ghad quoted Minister of Youth and Sport Nayef al-Bakri as saying the attacks were by suicide bombers.   

In his first statement following the rocket attack, Yemeni Prime Minister Khaled Bahah said that he was unhurt, and that he will remain in the city. 

Aside from forces loyal to exiled President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, the Emirates has the most overt presence among coalition forces inside Yemen. The seven-state federation has some 4,000 troops on the ground, a senior Emirati commander said last month, and boasts military hardware including tanks, armored fighting vehicles and attack helicopters.  
The Saudi-led coalition has been carrying out airstrikes against the rebels and their allies since March.

Yemen has been embroiled in fighting that pits the rebels known as Houthis and forces loyal to a former president against the Saudi-backed and internationally recognised government as well as southern separatists, local militias and Sunni extremists. 

The Emirates and other members of the coalition see Yemen's second city of Aden as a key foothold in restoring Yemen's government to power as they and their Yemeni allies attempt to push the rebels from the capital, Sanaa. 

President Hadi visited Aden two weeks ago under tight security, his first visit back to Yemen after nearly six months of exile in Saudi Arabia. That visit came a week after several members of his Cabinet returned to the city.

Anwar Gargash, the Emirati minister of state for foreign affairs, said Tuesday's attack was "the latest proof" that the Houthis and their allies are out to destroy Yemen. 

"The reality on the ground is they are fighting a losing battle. Their role on the ground has been reduced so they resort to mines, ambushes and rockets," he said on his official Twitter account. 

The assault Tuesday comes after a 4 September missile attack on an ammunition depot at the Emirati forward operating base at Saffer in Marib province killed 52 Emirati troops, as well as at least 10 soldiers from Saudi Arabia and five from Bahrain. It was the heaviest military loss for the Emirates since its founding in 1971.