Houthi forces controlling large parts of northern Yemen say about 20 people have been killed in Saudi-led coalition airstrikes in the capital Sanaa, a day after a Houthi drone strike killed three people in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia’s coalition partner .
Neighbors and doctors said about 14 people were killed when coalition planes hit the home of a senior Houthi military official, including his wife and son. A Houthi official tweeted that a total of about 20 people were dead.
Early Tuesday, the coalition said it had launched strikes against strongholds and camps in Sanaa belonging to the Houthi group.
Global leaders have gathered around the UAE since the drone strike, which killed three migrant workers and injured six others. Emirati officials said they were weighing a response to what they called a “gruesome criminal escalation” when satellite images were released revealing damage to an Abu Dhabi oil plant.
Houthi officials have previously said they had used two drones and several cruise missiles in an unprecedented attack on the Emirati capital, which drew condemnation from Arab states, Washington, London and the UN.
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said on Twitter: “I strongly condemn the Houthi-claimed terrorist attacks in the United Arab Emirates,” while US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan also condemned the attacks and promised to coordinate a response with Emirati officials.
Photographs of the attack sites showed burn marks near several oil tankers and white streaks believed to be firefighting foam. Another location, at the nearby Abu Dhabi International Airport, was also shown, although the damage was reported to have been minor.
In the Middle East, reactions ranged from surprise and indignation to justification for the strike in the heart of the Emirates’ capital. The attack came at a critical time in regional negotiations between Saudi Arabia and Iran as well as negotiations in Vienna, where Iranian officials are to meet their US counterparts in an attempt to recommit to the nuclear deal.
The Houthis are strongly backed by Iran and are seen as one of the proxy forces of the Iranian revolutionary guards. Another Iranian deputy in Iraq, Kata’ib Hezbollah, praised the attack with its leader, Abu Ali al-Askari, saying: “God was able to strike fear into Bin Zayed’s hearts with the help of the mujahideen and brave people of Iraq. Yemen. ”
Prior to Monday’s strike, several pro-militia groups in Iraq had posted images on social media pretending to show Dubai’s Burj Khalifa tower being hit by missiles fired from drones, in response to what they said was the UAE interfering in Iraqi affairs.
The messages in the Emirates have been perceived as a coordinated effort by Iran to destabilize the UAE. In recent weeks, a UAE-backed land force has rejected Houthi advance near the government stronghold of Marib in Yemen, where Abu Dhabi has significantly reduced its own troops but retains significant influence over clerks.
The Houthis intended to occupy the city of Shabwa, which would have given them proximity to gas and oil fields. However, an Emirati-led force, the Giants Brigades, was moved from the Red Sea to counter them.
The war in Yemen has, after years of destruction, dislocation and recent stalemate, become the most potent proxy arena in the region. Saudi troops and their air force remain dominant players in the conflict. On the Houthi side, Hezbollah plays a significant role, with its senior members known for having trained local forces in Yemen and for helping to import weapons from Iran.
In government circles in Iraq, where several rounds of talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia have been held in the past year, suspicions of the attacks swirled on Tuesday. “They are like the scorpion and the frog,” an Iraqi insider said of Iran. “Why should they do that now?”
Late last year, the head of Emirati’s intelligence service, Tahnoon bin Zayed, visited Iran to try to establish trade relations after several years of boycotting Tehran. “Will they embarrass him?” asked the insider. “It will have consequences.”