Recent intelligence shows that weapons used by Houthi militias to attack Saudi Arabia were smuggled by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps to Yemen via the strategic Hodeidah port, the Arab Coalition’s Spokesperson Colonel Turki al-Maliki said in an interview with Al Arabiya English.
Iranian-backed Houthi militias have launched increasingly lethal ballistic missile attacks on Saudi Arabia since the start of the year, breaking more than three months of calm in the five-year-old conflict.
“We have intelligence that all these weapons have been smuggled through the Hodeidah port by the IRGC. If we look deeply into the Houthi militia threats through ballistic missiles, drones or using booby-trapped vessels, all this proves the military strategy to prolong the war via the smuggling of Iranian weapons from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards,” al-Maliki said.
The statement follows the interception by Saudi forces of several Houthi ballistic missiles launched from the Yemeni capital Sanaa targeting cities in Saudi Arabia. The Houthis claimed they targeted Saudi Aramco oil facilities in the Red Sea port of Yanbu with twelve drones and three rockets. Saudi Aramco and the Arab Coalition have yet to officially release specific details regarding Friday’s attacks.
“There is no doubt that the launching of these ballistic missiles on Friday shows the violations of the Houthi militia in deliberately targeting civilians and civilian infrastructures,” al-Maliki said about Friday’s attacks.
“What we've also seen this past month includes the weapons that were seized in the Arabian Sea by US Central Command (CENTCOM). It proves the IRGC involvement in supporting and providing the Houthi militia with military-grade weapons which include anti-ship cruise missiles seized by the US Navy,” he added.
A US military spokesman said that a large shipment of Iranian-made weapons was seized on February 9 by the US Navy in the Arabian Sea which was destined to the Houthis in Yemen.
The weapons seized at the time by the USS Normandy included a guided-missile destroyer, Iranian copies of Russian weapons and others “uniquely designed by Iran and found nowhere else in the world,” Navy Capt. Bill Urban, the chief spokesman for CENTCOM, was quoted as saying by US military newspaper Stars and Stripes.
Al-Maliki said the recent attacks represent an escalation by the Houthis to ramp up aggression against Saudi Arabia and the wider region as Iran becomes increasingly isolated by the international community.
“We've seen that these Iranian weapons are being gathered in the Yemeni capital Sanaa where the terrorist Houthi militants have been holding workshops on how to assemble ballistic missiles and drones. They have been assembling these weapons in residential areas in Sanaa, using human shields so that the coalition would avoid targeting these workshops,” the spokesperson said.
“So far, the Arab Coalition has been using the maximum amount of self-restraint in not targeting Sanaa as the terrorist militants have been using human shields to protect their Iranian-made ballistic missile weapons,” he added.
Other recent attacks by the Houthi militia include one in the Red Sea on February 5 when three Egyptian fishermen died due to an explosion from a Houthi naval mine.
The Arab Coalition spokesperson confirmed to Al Arabiya that 147 naval mines planted by the Houthis
in the Bab el Mandeb strait and the southern Red Sea were discovered in the past three weeks alone.