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Saudi Forces Destroy Two Bomb Boats off Yemen

Drone boat command and control console aboard a vessel captured by the Yemeni Navy (file image courtesy Conflict Armament Research)
Drone boat command and control console aboard a vessel captured by the Yemeni Navy (file image courtesy Conflict Armament Research)

By The Maritime Executive 07-10-2020 08:50:09

Saudi-backed forces destroyed another two bomb boats off the coast of Salif, Yemen on Thursday, according to Saudi coalition spokesman Col. Turki al-Malki.

"[The boats] were prepared to imminently execute hostile and terrorist actions in the Bab Al Mandab Strait and Southern Red Sea," al-Malki told the Saudi Press Agency. He asserted that they posed an "imminent threat to sea lines of communication, international trade and regional and international security."

In a statement on Twitter, a Houthi spokesman denied that the two boats were involved in hostilities and accused the Saudi coalition of harming civilians. "The aggression that was carried out today by the targeting of civilian boats in the As-Salif area is a major aggression and a flagrant violation of the Swedish agreement," said the spokesman, referring to a ceasefire deal negotiated in late 2018. "This attack came to cover up [Saudi] crimes including the naval blockade and the disruption of the port of Al-Hodeidah and Al-Salif . . . The navy and coastal defense will not remain idle in front of such criminality, escalation and violations."

Saudi coalition forces periodically intercept remotely-controlled bomb boats operated by the Houthi rebel forces that control Yemen's northwest coast. At least one Houthi-claimed bomb boat attack - the strike on the Saudi warship Al-Madinah in 2017 - caused significant damage to a coalition vessel. 

In November 2019, an American anti-smuggling effort resulted in the seizure of bomb boat command and control components aboard a dhow at an undisclosed location in the Middle East. U.S. intelligence officials believe the shipment to be of Iranian origin. Iran is widely believed to be the primary foreign sponsor of the Houthi movement, though it denies providing Houthi forces with direct assistance.