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Saudi commander, UAE officer killed in Yemen fighting

RIYADH: A top Saudi commander and an Emirati officer were killed in Yemen Monday during Arab coalition operations against Iran-backed rebels, the Riyadh-led alliance said.

Saudi Colonel Abdullah al-Sahyan and Emirati officer Sultan al-Kitbi were killed at dawn on Monday “while they were carrying out their duties in supervising operations to liberate Taez” province in Yemen’s southwest, the official SPA news agency said.

A Yemeni officer told AFP that both officers were killed when rebels fired a rocket at a coastal road in the strategic province, which overlooks the Bab al-Mandab Strait between the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.

The rebels claimed in a statement on their sabanews.net website that they have fired a Tochka missile against “a command centre run by the enemy” in the Bab al-Mandab area.

The rebels claimed the attack caused “many losses in lives and military equipment,” including Apache helicopters, among the Saudi-led coalition ranks.

AFP could not immediately confirm these claims from other sources.

The coalition has been battling Iran-backed rebels in Yemen since March, and has provided loyalist forces with troops and equipment as well as carrying out air strikes on insurgent positions.

Sahyan on Saturday met Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi who awarded him with a medal of courage, according to Yemen’s official sabanews.net.

He was identified as commander of the Saudi forces in provisional capital Aden, where Hadi is based.

The United Arab Emirates, playing a key role in the Saudi-led coalition, confirmed the death of its officer without specifying his rank.

In early September, a similar rebel missile strike on a coalition base in Yemen’s eastern Marib province killed 67 coalition soldiers, most of them Emiratis.

So far at least 80 people, mostly soldiers and border guards, have been killed in Saudi Arabia because of the Yemen conflict.

The UAE says it has lost almost 70 soldiers so far.

Several Bahraini troops and one Qatari soldier have been killed as part of the coalition operations.

In Yemen itself, the United Nations says more than 5,800 people have been killed, about half of them civilians, and more than 27,000 wounded since March.

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