US military fired missiles during Yemen Houthi attack on UAE

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The US military launched interceptor missiles during an attack by Houthi rebels in Yemen that targeted the United Arab Emirates during a visit by the president of Israel, the second time US forces have opened fire , officials said.

The White House and Pentagon recognition late on Monday represents an increasing US involvement in the years-long war in Yemen, a conflict that President Joe Biden declared “must end” nearly a year ago.

While the US has ended offensive support for the Saudi-led coalition fighting on behalf of Yemen’s exiled government, its involvement in the defense of the UAE comes as the insurgent Houthis attack Al-Dhafra Air Force Base in Abu Dhabi. have been targeted. Al-Dhafra is home to some 2,000 US troops and has served as a key base for everything from weaponized drones to F-35 stealth fighters.

Speaking from the White House, Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the US military was “responding to an incoming missile threat on the UAE.

“This included deploying Patriot interceptors to … (support) efforts of the UAE’s armed forces,” Psaki said. “I would say we work very closely with them.”

Speaking to the Pentagon, press secretary John Kirby said “American patriots were fired, but it was the Emirati surface-to-air missiles that actually attacked the targets.”

Asked if that would include targets outside of Al-Dhafra, Kirby said: “If we can help defend our Emirati partners, we will.”

Biden also mentioned the attack on the UAE at the White House during a visit by the ruling Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, and said that “America will have the backs of our friends in the region.”

The Emirati military, as in a similar attack last week, did not acknowledge that the US military opened fire. The autocratic UAE, a federation of seven sheikdoms in the Arabian Peninsula, has threatened criminal charges against anyone who films an attack or outgoing interceptor fire.

The UAE-run WAM news agency reported Monday’s interception, saying “the attack resulted in no casualties as the remnants of the ballistic missile fell outside the populated areas.” It was not immediately clear where the remains fell, although US Patriot missiles are believed to be deployed only at Al-Dhafra.

The attack came just before Visit of Israeli President Isaac Herzog to Dubai Expo 2020.

January 17th attack on Abu Dhabi by the Houthis killed three people and injured six at a fuel depot of Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. near Al-Dhafra.

into the war Yemen has become the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Saudi Arabia-led air strikes with US-made bombs have killed schoolchildren and civilians. The UAE paid local al-Qaeda fighters to avoid fighting and controlled prisons where torture and sexual abuse were rampant. Meanwhile, Houthi rebels in Yemen have recruited child soldiers and arbitrarily laid land mines during the country’s civil war.

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Follow Jon Gambrell on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jongambrellAP.

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