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WAR REPORT
2 killed, 15 wounded in Saudi-led strike on Yemen workshop
by Staff Writers
Sanaa (AFP) Feb 14, 2016


20 nations join major military manoeuvre in Saudi
Riyadh (AFP) Feb 14, 2016 - Armed forces from around 20 countries were gathering in northern Saudi Arabia Sunday for "the most important" military manoeuvre ever staged in the region, the official news agency SPA reported.

The "Thunder of the North" exercise involving ground, air, and naval forces sends a "clear message" that Riyadh and its allies "stand united in confronting all challenges and preserving peace and stability in the region", SPA said.

Saudi Arabia is currently leading a military campaign against Iran-backed rebels in its southern neighbour Yemen. Last December, it also formed a new 35-member coalition to fight "terrorism" in Islamic countries.

Sunday's announcement also comes as the kingdom, a member of the US-led coalition targeting the jihadist Islamic State group, said it has deployed warplanes to a Turkish air base in order to "intensify" its operations against IS in Syria.

SPA did not specify when the military exercise will begin or how long it will last.

However, the agency called it the "most important and largest in the region's history" in terms of the number of nations taking part and the weaponry being used.

Twenty countries will be taking take part, SPA said.

Among them are Saudi Arabia's five partners in the Gulf Cooperation Council, as well as Chad, Egypt, Jordan, Malaysia, Morocco, Pakistan, Senegal and Tunisia, it added.

A Saudi source said on Thursday that members of the new "anti-terrorism" coalition will gather in Saudi Arabia next month for its first publicly announced meeting.

Riyadh has said the alliance would share intelligence, combat violent ideology and deploy troops if necessary.

A Saudi-led coalition air strike on a sewing workshop killed at least two people and wounded 15 in the rebel-held Yemeni capital on Sunday, the owner told AFP.

"Two employees, including a 14-year-old boy, were killed and 15 others wounded in the overnight air raid," Faisal al-Musaabi said.

A search was underway for another employee still buried under the rubble of the building in the east of Sanaa, he added.

The coalition has been carrying out air strikes against Iran-backed rebels across Yemen since March.

The rebels, who have controlled Sanaa since September 2014, reported a higher death toll of 11 employees killed and four others wounded in the strike on the workshop, according to their sabanews.net website.

The United Nations says more than 6,100 people have been killed in Yemen's conflict since the coalition began its raids, about half of them civilians.

On Sunday, Human Rights Watch accused the Saudi-led coalition of using US-supplied cluster bombs in Yemen, causing civilian casualties.

"Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners, as well as their US supplier, are blatantly disregarding the global standard that says cluster munitions should never be used under any circumstances," said HRW's arms director Steve Goose.

One type of air-dropped cluster munition used by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, the US-manufactured CBU-105 Sensor Fuzed Weapon, has "harmed civilians in at least two attacks," Goose said.

"The evidence raises serious questions about compliance with US cluster munition policy and export rules," he added.

"The Saudi-led coalition should investigate evidence that civilians are being harmed in these attacks and immediately stop using them," said Goose.

The coalition last month announced that an independent inquiry would examine charges of possible abuses against civilians in the conflict.

A panel of UN experts says the coalition has carried out 119 sorties that violated humanitarian law, and called for an international probe.

Meanwhile, the United Arab Emirates -- a key member of the coalition -- announced that one of its soldiers taking part in the Yemen war was killed on Sunday and another was wounded.

The Armed Forces statement published on the official WAM news agency website did not give details.

But a Yemeni military source told AFP that a bomb-laden vehicle targeted an Emirati armoured vehicle in Yemen's southern Lahj province, killing one soldier and wounding another.

A Yemeni civilian also died, the source said, adding that the attack appeared to be carried out by the Islamic State jihadist group, which is becoming increasingly active in the south.

The UAE has lost more than 70 soldiers in Yemen since the Arab coalition launched its military campaign in support of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi's internationally-recognised government.

Saudi says it intercepted Scud missile from Yemen
Riyadh (AFP) Feb 14, 2016 - Saudi Arabia intercepted a Scud missile fired towards the kingdom by Iran-backed rebels in Yemen, the Riyadh-led coalition fighting the insurgents has said.

The official Saudi SPA news agency said the missile was destroyed by the kingdom's air defences at around 2145 (1845 GMT) on Saturday, around 100 kilometres (60 miles) from its border with Yemen.

Yemen's Shiite Huthi rebels meanwhile said in a statement on their sabanews.net website that the missile targeted the Abha Regional Airport in southern Saudi Arabia.

The missile "precisely hit its target," it said.

Saturday's incident is the third time Saudi Arabia says it has shot down a Scud fired from Yemen.

On Tuesday, the coalition said that a Saudi Patriot missile had downed a Scud fired from the rebel-held Yemeni capital, Sanaa.

Riyadh has deployed Patriots designed to counter tactical ballistic missiles, which have been fired occasionally since March when the coalition began air strikes in support of the Yemeni government after Huthi rebels seized Sanaa and advanced towards second city Aden.

In April last year the Saudi defence ministry said coalition strikes had removed threats to the kingdom's security "by destroying heavy weaponry and ballistic missiles" seized by the Yemeni rebels.

Vehicle-borne Scud ballistic missiles have a much longer range and more powerful warhead than the rockets and mortar bombs which have struck the kingdom's southern border regions, killing about 90 civilians and soldiers since the coalition intervention began.

The United Nations says more than 6,100 people in Yemen have been killed in the conflict since March, about half of them civilians.


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