The deadly incident took place in the oil-producing Marib area of central Yemen, allegedly after the Houthi missile struck an ammunitions depot. At least 22 Emirati soldiers were killed on the spot while 23 others died from their wounds hours later, UAE state news agency WAM reported.
“A rocket and an explosion at a weapons cache has targeted the martyrs,” UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said on Twitter.
The Houthis official confirmed that their fighters fired a Soviet-era Tochka missile in the area, AP reports.
In a separate incident five Bahraini soldiers were killed while “defending the southern border of Saudi Arabia,” Bahrain’s official news agency BNA said.
The Saudi-led coalition of Gulf nations has been launching airstrikes on Yemeni territory since March, targeting Houthi rebels and troops loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, in order to bring back to power President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi deposed earlier this year.
So far the UAE is the only country that has acknowledged its troops to be on the ground in fighting in Yemen. Emirates soldiers played a pivotal role in driving the Houthis out of the southern port city of Aden and curbing the gains made by the Houthis.
Friday’s death toll for UAE military is the largest the country’s forces have ever faced after being founded as a state in 1971. The previous death toll stood at six soldiers, all of whom died in combat in Kuwait in 1991.
Meanwhile in US, President Barack Obama hosting Saudi Arabia’s King Salman where he expressed hop for an inclusive, functioning government in Yemen, but has failed to condemn Saudi-led operation.
“We share concerns about Yemen and the need to restore a function government that is inclusive and that can relieve the humanitarian situation there,” Obama told reporters.
At the same time the UN has released a further $15 million to help the suffering of the civilians.
“The civilian population is bearing the brunt of the conflict: a shocking four out of five Yemenis require humanitarian assistance and nearly 1.5 million people are internally displaced,” said Stephen O’Brien, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, who is also the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, as he announced additional funds.