Yemeni Houthi militias claim they shot down coalition warplane

An image grab taken from the Huthi rebel television station Al-Masira shows Yemeni tribesmen celebrating around the wreckage of a plane bearing a Moroccan flag, in the the Wadi Nushur area in the north Yemen's province of Saada, on May 11, 2015. (AFP)

Yemen’s Shiite Houthi militias said Monday that they shot down a warplane of the Saudi-led coalition, shortly after Morocco said one of its fighter jets had gone missing on a sortie.

“The air defense of the tribes shot down a warplane over Wadi Nushur, in Saada,” the rebels’ northern stronghold, Houthi news channel Al-Masirah said, broadcasting images of tribesmen celebrating around the wreckage of a plane.

The television said it was an F-16 fighter jet while the footage showed a Moroccan flag on a broken rudder lying on a rocky patch.

Morocco said contact was lost with the fighter and its pilot at 6 pm (1500 GMT) on Sunday, the official MAP news agency reported, citing an armed forces statement.

“A second plane which was flying in formation was not able to see whether the pilot ejected,” it added.

A Saudi official said that an investigation was trying to determine the missing plane’s approximate location.

“It is definitely inside Yemen and it is a single pilot on board,” the Saudi official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

It is the first coalition aircraft to have been reported missing over Yemen in the more than six-week bombing campaign launched on March 26.

According to Moroccan press reports, the north African kingdom has deployed a squadron of six F-16s for the operation.

Riyadh is a close ally of Rabat and a major donor.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:45 - GMT 06:45