SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Twenty-two members of the United Arab Emirates’ military were killed while taking part in Saudi-led operations in Yemen against Shiite rebels known as Houthis, the official news agency WAM said Friday, the largest single loss for the Gulf nation’s military to date in the war.Pro-government Yemeni security officials said the troops were killed Friday when a Houthi missile hit a weapons storage depot near their position in the province of Marib, about 120 kilometers (75 miles) east of the capital Sanaa. Officials from the Houthi media office in Sanaa confirmed they fired a Soviet-era Tochka missile.
The WAM news agency didn’t specify the role of the personnel in Yemen. The seven-state Emirates federation is one of the most prominent members of the Saudi-led coalition, which aims to roll back gains by the Shiite rebels and their allies in the deeply impoverished Arabian Peninsula country.
Friday was by far the deadliest day for the Emirati military since the conflict began, and the deaths are believed to be the country’s highest number of military casualties since the UAE federation was founded in 1971.
At least five other members of the Emirati military have been killed in Yemen this year, and another died during training exercises related to the operation in Saudi Arabia.
Fighting in Yemen pits the Houthis and army units loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh against forces loyal President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who is in self-imposed exile in Saudi, as well as southern separatists and local militias.