By Alexander Cornwell
DUBAI (Reuters) – Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi movement used cruise missiles and ballistic missiles alongside drones in Monday’s deadly strike on the United Arab Emirates, which intercepted part of the attack, the Gulf state’s ambassador to the United States said.
It is the first time the UAE, which rarely discusses its security in public, has said missiles were used in the assault that killed three civilians in Abu Dhabi, and the first time it has claimed to have intercepted some of the weapons.
The Houthis said they fired four Quds cruise missiles at an oil refinery in Musaffah district and the airport in Abu Dhabi, a Zulfiqar ballistic missile at Dubai airport and several drones at those and other sites.
The UAE said the attack hit a fuel depot of state oil firm ADNOC in Musaffah and a construction site near Abu Dhabi airport. Abu Dhabi police said they found parts of small planes that could possibly be drones.
“Several attacks – a combination of cruise missiles, ballistic missiles and drones – targeted civilian sites in the UAE. Several were intercepted,” Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba told an online panel hosted by the Jewish Institute for National Security of America.
A person briefed on the attack, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said an under construction passenger terminal at Abu Dhabi airport was hit by missiles, injuring construction workers.
The individual said some drones crashed in desert areas in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, adding that the missiles and drones were believed to have been launched from Yemen and flew at a low altitude to avoid detection.
UAE authorities did not immediately respond to a Reuters’ request for comment.
The UAE is part of a Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthis in Yemen. The UAE in 2019 largely reduced its military presence but continues to support Yemeni forces, some of which recently joined battles against the Houthis in the energy-producing Shabwa and Marib regions.
Otaiba said the UAE had “long left the Yemen war” and urged Washington to reinstate the Houthi terrorist designation, revoked by President Joe Biden’s administration last February due to concerns it would exacerbate a dire humanitarian crisis.
Biden said on Wednesday the United States is considering re-designating the Houthi movement, which largely controls north Yemen after ousting the government from the capital, Sanaa, in late 2014.
(Reporting by Lisa Barrington and Alexander Cornwell; Editing by Ghaida Ghaida, Peter Graff, William Maclean)