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Saudi-led coalition hits Houthi-held areas in renewed air raids

Al Jazeera

Fighter jets belonging to a Saudi-led coalition battling Yemen's Houthi rebels have launched dozens of air raids on several Yemeni provinces, as the kingdom announced the start of a new military operation. The Houthi-run Al Masirah Media Network reported air raids on the capital, Sanaa, as well as Marib, al-Jouf, al-Bayda, Hajjah and Saada provinces throughout Wednesday and into the night. It said an elderly woman and a child were killed and four others wounded in Saada province. In Sanaa, residents described the air raids, which also struck the city's international airport, as "violent". Saudi state television reported earlier on Wednesday that the coalition had begun a military push against the Houthis after the group stepped up cross-border missile and drone attacks on the kingdom.


Saudi-led coalition says it destroyed missile targeting Najran

Al Jazeera

The Saudi-led military coalition, which has been battling the Houthi rebels in Yemen, said on Saturday it had intercepted and destroyed a ballistic missile targeting the Saudi Arabian border city of Najran. In a statement issued via the Saudi state news agency SPA, coalition spokesman Turki al-Malki said the missile was fired from the Yemeni city of Saada, and some people were slightly injured by fragments of the weapon when it was destroyed. The missile had targeted civilian facilities in the southwestern Saudi city of Najran near the border with Yemen, the coalition said. The Houthis, who have controlled the capital, Sanaa, and areas in the country's north since 2014, did not confirm the attack. The rebel group has launched dozens of drone attacks on Saudi Arabia in the past in what they call retaliation to the Saudi intervention in Yemen.


AQAP confirms death of leader, appoints successor: SITE

The Japan Times

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula on Sunday confirmed the death of its leader, Qassim al-Rimi, and appointed a successor, weeks after the U.S. said it had "eliminated" the Islamist militant chief, SITE Intelligence group said. The announcement came in an audio speech delivered by AQAP religious official, Hamid bin Hamoud al-Tamimi, said the group, which monitors jihadi networks worldwide. "In his speech, Tamimi spoke at length about Rimi and his jihadi journey, and stated that Khalid bin Umar Batarfi is the new leader of AQAP," it said. SITE said Batarfi has appeared in many AQAP videos over the past several years and appeared to have been Rimi's deputy and group spokesman. President Donald Trump announced Rimi's death earlier this month, saying he had been killed in a U.S. "counterterrorism operation in Yemen."


New Iranian Missiles Pose Threat to U.S. Aircraft in Yemen, Pentagon Says

NYT > Middle East

According to an American military official, the 358 missile in flight is about nine feet long and can run on kerosene or diesel fuel contained in flexible containers that do not require a separate fuel pump. A dozen infrared lenses arranged in a ring around the missile are believed to be able to defeat heat-seeking countermeasures that coalition helicopters typically use. Another United States military official said that the 358 missiles from Iran had been fired against American drones flying in Yemeni airspace, but they had not yet succeeded in hitting any. Three of the 358 missiles were captured in November by the Forrest Sherman, a Navy destroyer, and five more were recovered this month in an operation by the Normandy, a Navy cruiser. Those shipments also included more than 170 antitank guided missiles made in Iran, as well as 13,000 blasting caps, which are critical to making modern roadside bombs.


Devices found in Houthi missiles and Yemen drones link Iran to attacks

The Japan Times

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – A small instrument inside the drones that targeted the heart of Saudi Arabia's oil industry and those in the arsenal of Yemen's Houthi rebels match components recovered in downed Iranian drones in Afghanistan and Iraq, two reports say. These gyroscopes have only been found inside drones manufactured by Iran, Conflict Armament Research said in a report released on Wednesday. That follows a recently released report from the United Nations saying its experts saw a similar gyroscope from an Iranian drone obtained by the U.S. military in Afghanistan, as well as in weapons shipments seized in the Arabian Sea bound for Yemen. The discovery further ties Iran to an attack that briefly halved Saudi Arabia's oil output and saw energy prices spike by a level unseen since the 1991 Gulf War. It also ties Iran to the arming of the rebel Houthis in Yemen's long civil war.


U.S. killing of leader of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula hurts group in Yemen

The Japan Times

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – The U.S. has killed the leader of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula in war-torn Yemen, raising questions about the jihadi group's operations and its future. President Donald Trump said the United States "conducted a counterterrorism operation" that eliminated Qassim al-Rimi, according to a White House statement released on Thursday. But what does this mean for AQAP and for Yemen, where a five-year war between the government -- backed by a Saudi-led military coalition -- and the Iran-aligned Houthi rebels has crippled the country? Al-Rimi was named AQAP leader after his predecessor, Nasir al-Wuhayshi, was killed in a U.S. drone strike on Yemen in June 2015. He was one of the group's founders in 2009 and its first military commander.


White House Confirms Killing of Terrorist Leader in Yemen

NYT > Middle East

The United States killed the leader of Al Qaeda's affiliate in Yemen, the White House confirmed on Thursday. The confirmation came about a week after The New York Times first reported that the United States believed it had killed Qassim al-Rimi, the Qaeda leader, in January after months of tracing him. The C.I.A. carried out the airstrike using an unmanned drone, an intelligence official said. The White House statement had little detail about the operation, but said it was carried out at the direction of President Trump. The statement said Mr. al-Rimi's death will degrade the Yemen affiliate and the global Qaeda movement and "brings us closer to eliminating the threats these groups pose to our national security."


U.S. probe of Saudi oil attack shows it came from north, reinforcing claim of Iran as source: report

The Japan Times

WASHINGTON – The United States said new evidence and analysis of weapons debris recovered from an attack on Saudi oil facilities on Sept. 14 indicates the strike likely came from the north, reinforcing its earlier assessment that Iran was behind the offensive. In an interim report of its investigation -- seen by Reuters ahead of a presentation on Thursday to the United Nations Security Council -- Washington assessed that before hitting its targets, one of the drones traversed a location approximately 200 km (124 miles) to the northwest of the attack site. "This, in combination with the assessed 900 kilometer maximum range of the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), indicates with high likelihood that the attack originated north of Abqaiq," the interim report said, referring to the location of one of the Saudi oil facilities that were hit. It added the United States had identified several similarities between the drones used in the raid and an Iranian designed and produced unmanned aircraft known as the IRN-05 UAV. However, the report noted that the analysis of the weapons debris did not definitely reveal the origin of the strike that initially knocked out half of Saudi Arabia's oil production.


Dronestagram: The Drone's-Eye View

#artificialintelligence

Posting the landscapes of drone strikes to Instagram: Follow Dronestagram (also on Tumblr and Twitter). These are the names of places. They are towns, villages, junctions and roads. They are the names of places where people live and work, where there are families and schools. They are the names of places in Afghanistan and Yemen, which are linked by one thing: they have each been the location of drone strikes in the past couple of months.


Saudi Arabia says Iranian missiles and drones attacked oil sites but stops short of blaming Tehran

The Japan Times

RIYADH – Saudi Arabia alleged Wednesday an attack by drones and cruise missiles on the heart of the kingdom's oil industry was "unquestionably sponsored by Iran," naming but not directly accusing Tehran of launching the assault. Iran denies being involved in the attack claimed by Yemeni rebels, and has threatened the U.S. that it will retaliate "immediately" if Tehran is targeted in response. The news conference by Saudi military spokesman Col. Turki al-Malki comes after a summer of heightened tensions between Iran and the U.S. over President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrawing America from Tehran's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. The U.S. alleges Iran launched the attack, which Yemen's Houthi rebels earlier claimed as a response to the yearslong Saudi-led war there that's killed tens of thousands of people. Al-Malki made a point not to directly accuse Iran of firing the weapons or launching them from inside of Iranian territory.