JEDDAH: At least 30 soldiers were killed and more than 65 injured on Sunday in an attack by the Iran-backed Houthi militia on a military base in southern Yemen.
A ballistic missile followed by two explosives-laden drones struck a barracks housing about 50 troops at Al-Anad air base in Lahj province, 70 km north of Aden.
Medics described a chaotic scene as soldiers carried their wounded colleagues to safety, fearing another attack.
Most of the wounded were taken to the nearby Ibn Khaldun hospital, where many were in critical condition with third-degree burns. Graphic video footage from the scene showed several charred bodies on the ground.
One of the survivors, soldier Nasser Saeed: “We were able to shoot down one drone. Many were killed and wounded.”
Hospital spokesman Mohsen Murshid said all its resources were needed to cope with the wounded. “We have called on the entire staff, surgeons and nurses, to come in,” he said. “We also know that there are still bodies under the rubble.”
The victims belong to the Giants Brigades, part of the Saudi-led coalition fighting to restore Yemen’s internationally recognized government.
Before the attack, residents in the central city of Taiz heard ballistic missiles fired from launchers in the Houthi-held eastern suburbs of the city.
Yemen’s President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi said Yemenis should unite to fight the Houthis together.
“Anyone who can imagine that he will survive the Iran-backed Houthi militia’s death scheme, is deluded, we … must be fully aware of this truth and aim our arrows at this enemy,” he said.
Yemen’s Information Minister Moammar Al-Iryani said the attack would undermine international efforts to establish a ceasefire in Yemen. “This terrorist attack affirms once again the continuation of the Houthi militia in their approach of military escalation,” he said.
The Arab Parliament condemned the attack on Al-Anad airbase, saying it holds the militia, and the Iranian regime that supports it, fully responsible.
Al-Anad military base was the headquarters for US troops overseeing a long-running drone war against Al-Qaeda until they pulled out in March 2015, shortly before the Houthis overran the area. The Houthis seized the base in the months after their takeover of Sanaa, before government forces reclaimed it during the battle to reverse the militia’s gains.
A bomb-laden Houthi drone attack on Al-Anad in January 2019 killed six troops. The militia also launched a missile attack on Aden airport in December 2020, when at least 26 people were killed, including three members of the International Committee of the Red Cross and a journalist, and scores wounded.
Sunday’s attack came a week before the new UN special envoy for Yemen, Hans Grundberg, assumes his duties on Sept. 5.