Yemen Update: January 10-April 3

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Between January 10 and April 3, KSA reported at least two Houthi ballistic missile launches targeting Saudi territory. Both are unidentified. One missile targeted Khamis Mushait, and was successfully intercepted. The second targeted a pro-coalition military base in Al Khokha in southern Hodeidah, Yemen. It was not intercepted and resulted in casualties.

There has been a significant decrease in reported missile activity over the past three months. There are several potential explanations for this, one being that the Houthis are substituting ballistic missiles for drones. During this three-month period, reporting on Houthi UAV forces and deployment has noticeably increased. A second reason behind decreasing reported missile activity is that Saudi Arabia appears to have slowed reporting on its Yemen operations following considerable public scrutiny of the conflict that came with the Jamal Khashoggi killing. Diplomatic efforts may also have promoted stricter ceasefires, and Houthi forces may be running low on ballistic missiles or parts.

Below is a summary of the confirmed missile and UAV events during the January 10 to April 3 period.

January 10

Houthi forces conducted a UAV attack on a military parade at Al-Anad military base in Lahij Province, Yemen. Video imagery suggests the UAV is a Qasef-1/Ababil T, and a Houthi spokesperson said it carried between 70 to 100 kg of explosives. The attack killed six people, including Brig. Gen. Saleh Tamah, the head of Yemen’s Intelligence Service, and injured at least a dozen others. On the following day (Jan 11), the Arab Coalition said it destroyed a Houthi communication and control center used to direct drones.

Houthi drone targets senior Yemeni officers, kills five soldiers, Al Jazeera
Arab Coalition destroys Houthi drone centre as world condemns attack, The National

January 30

Saudi Air Defense forces intercepted a Houthi-launched ballistic missile targeting Khamis Mushait. Resulting debris landed in a neighborhood on the outskirts of the city, but did not cause injury or property damage. The same day, KSA also intercepted a Houthi UAV flying over Abha. Debris from the intercept resulted in “moderate injuries” to four civilians and damage to some vehicles.

Saudi Royal Air Force intercepts and destroys hostile drone, Saudi Arabia Ministry of Defense
Houthi drone, ballistic missile intercepted, Saudi Gazette
Coalition intercepts, destroys Iranian-made Houthi drone over Abha, Al Arabiya

March 8

Saudi Air Defense forces intercepted a Houthi UAV flying around Abha. The resulting debris injured five civilians, and damaged property in the vicinity. Separately, KSA forces also intercepted another Houthi UAV flying towards Khamis Mushait. This intercept did not result in injury or damage.

Colonel Al-Malki: Coalition’s operations continue to neutralize ballistic capabilities of Iran-backed terrorist Houthi militia, Saudi Press Agency
Saudis shoot down drone aimed at kingdom, Saudi TV reports, Reuters

March 14

Houthi forces fired an unidentified ballistic missile on a pro-coalition military base in Al Khokha in southern Hodeidah, Yemen. The base, designated “Abu Musa Al Asharay,” is controlled by the National Resistance militia. The missile strike killed one fighter and injured 14 others. It was reportedly fired from the “mountainous area in the eastern district of Hays in southern Hodeidah.” Houthi media reports the group launched two rockets on the base.

Yemen: Houthis increase tension with missile strike, The National

March 23

The Arab Coalition conducted airstrikes to destroy two caves used by Houthis to store and deploy UAVs.

The Joint Forces Command of the Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen: “Targeting and Destruction of (Two Caves) In Sana’a Used by the Iran-Backed Terrorist Houthi Militia to Store Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)”, Saudi Press Agency
Saudi-led coalition attacks drone storage caves in Yemen’s capital: SPA, Reuters

April 2

Saudi air defense forces intercepted two Houthi UAVs flying towards Khamis Mushait. Resulting debris injured five civilians and damaged some houses and four vehicles.

The Joint Forces Command of the Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen: Royal Saudi Air Defense Intercepts and Destroys Two Hostile UAVs Launched Towards (Khamis Mushait), Saudi Press Agency
Arab Coalition intercepts two Houthi drones over Saudi Arabia, Al Arabiya