UAE intercepts, destroys three drones targeting the country: Defense Ministry

The latest attack comes after three separate missile attacks on the UAE in the last two weeks, which the Iran-backed Houthis claimed.

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The UAE intercepted and destroyed three “hostile drones” that targeted unnamed areas in the country, the Defense Ministry said Wednesday.

“MOD confirms it is ready to deal with any threats and is taking all necessary measures to protect the state and its territory,” a tweet from the ministry read.

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The drones, fired at dawn on Wednesday, were “away from populated areas,” the ministry said.

Lebanese pro-Iranian TV channel Al Mayadeen said that an Iraqi militia claimed the attacks, which they said were aimed at facilities in Abu Dhabi.

The latest attack comes after three separate missile attacks on the UAE in the last two weeks. The Iran-backed Houthis have claimed responsibility for the attacks and threatened to increase their attacks on the UAE.

On Tuesday, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke to Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan to discuss the Houthi attacks on the UAE’s capital.

Austin, later echoed by US President Joe Biden, said that Washington was prepared to increase its assistance to the UAE in order to deal with these threats.

UAE Ambassador to the US Yousef Al Otaiba welcomed the announcements in a statement posted on the Embassy’s website on Wednesday.

“US naval and air deployments to the UAE are a welcome and valued signal of common purpose against Houthi and other threats,” the Emirati envoy said. “Close UAE-US cooperation in air defense has been critical to protecting the UAE and UAE-based US personnel against recent Houthi-launched missile and drone attacks. For more than 25 years, the UAE-US security partnership has made both countries safer.”

Late Sunday, US military forces deployed Patriot surface-to-air missiles at the ballistic missiles fired by the Houthis during an attack on Abu Dhabi, a senior White House official said Monday.

That attack by the Houthis, which Biden removed the terror blacklist in one of his first foreign policy moves after taking office, coincided with the first-ever visit to the UAE by an Israeli president.

On January 17, the Houthis launched a deadly attack using cruise and ballistic missiles and drones to target Abu Dhabi. The strike led to a fire breaking out and the explosion of three petroleum tankers, killing three people and wounding six others.

That was followed by another attack against Abu Dhabi on January 24, but UAE authorities - with US forces - said they successfully intercepted the two Houthi ballistic missiles with no casualties.

The Houthis have threatened to keep targeting the UAE so long as it backs groups in Yemen fighting against the militia.

The UAE is part of the Arab Coalition led by Saudi Arabia, which intervened in Yemen in 2015 to restore the internationally recognized government of Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

Read more: US warns against UAE travel; Emirati official says Houthi threats won’t be new normal