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Saudi-led coalition announces the crash of its combat plane in Yemen

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — The Saudi-led coalition in Yemen announced on Saturday that its combat plane had fallen in Al-Jawf governorate in Yemen, while the Houthi rebels said they had shot down the plane.

“At 23:45 p.m. on Friday, a Tornado fighter plane of the Royal Saudi Air Force crashed while on a mission to provide close air support to units of the Yemeni National Army,” coalition spokesman Colonel Turki al-Maliki said in a statement published by the Saudi Press Agency.

The coalition did not clarify the cause of the crash or the fate of its crew.

The Houthi rebels announced on Friday night, Saturday, that “a Tornado plane had been shot down with an advanced air-to-surface missile,” according to their spokeswoman, Al-Masirah channel.

“The sky of Yemen is not for a walk, and the enemy has to count a thousand accounts for that,” spokesman for the rebel forces, Yahya Sari, said in remarks carried by the march.

On Saturday, Sari announced that “the scenes of the launch of a surface-to-air missile and the moment of injury and shooting down of the Saudi Tornado aircraft will be distributed.”

It is rare for a coalition plane to crash in Yemen.

In 2017, a Saudi military Black Hawk aircraft crashed in the Yemeni governorate of Ma’rib, killing 12 Saudi soldiers. A senior Yemeni official suggested that the plane had crashed “with friendly fire” at the time.

In another development, Al Masirah TV channel reported on Saturday a number of air strikes, noting that “the aggression aircraft targeted the citizens as they gathered at the wreckage of the plane that was shot down in the Al-Masloub District” in Al-Jawf Governorate.

The channel said the raids had caused “dozens of dead and wounded.”

It was not possible to confirm this from aid workers or humanitarian organizations.

“A painful blow”

For his part, Yemeni rebel spokesman Mohamed Abdel Salam said in a tweet on his Twitter account that “the shooting down of the Tornado plane in the sky of al-Jawf is a painful blow to the enemy, and a step that indicates a remarkable growth in the capabilities of Yemen’s air defenses.”

The crash comes as battles take place in several areas of Al-Jawf Governorate between forces loyal to the Yemeni government and the Houthi rebels.

The clashes renewed dawn Friday, violently, according to a government military source. The source said that the Houthi rebel forces had made progress in several areas of the province in an effort to “reach Al-Hazm (the capital of Al-Jouf).”

The rebels control large parts of Al-Jawf Governorate.

But the capital remains under the control of government forces.

Yemen has been experiencing a war since 2014 between Houthi rebels close to Iran and forces loyal to the government of the recognized president. The battles intensified in March 2015, with Saudi Arabia intervening at the head of a military alliance in support of government forces.

In addition to the victims, there are still 3.3 million displaced people, while 24.1 million people, or more than two-thirds of the population, need help, according to the United Nations, which describes the humanitarian crisis in Yemen as the worst in the world today.

The power struggle has killed tens of thousands, including a large number of civilians, according to humanitarian organizations.

On Wednesday, the coalition announced that it had begun legal procedures against its members involved in operations that violate international humanitarian law in this country, as the United Nations condemned the occurrence of “many” war crimes.

It is the first action of its kind taken by the military alliance that also includes the UAE, which intervened in the conflict in March 2015 in support of the internationally recognized president, Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, and his government, months after Iranian-backed Houthis took control of the Yemeni capital, Sanaa.

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