The United Arab Emirates has reported a UAE plane missing on a mission to Yemen to fight Houthi rebels, a group of militant Shiites which took control the Yemeni capital Sanaa last year. UAE’s military made a brief announcement via national news agency, WAM, earlier today, in which the UAE plane was reported missing and the event described as the “loss of a fighter aircraft.” At this stage, officials of the seven-emirate federation have not been reached for comment, and WAM has not given further details of the events leading up to the plane going missing.
“The Supreme Command of the Armed Forces announced today that a fighter jet taking part in the Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia… in Yemen was missing,” said WAM’s statement.
Planes began to be deployed in air strikes targeting the Houthis when the rebels took the Yemeni capital of Sanaa last year in a bloody battle for power. As part of a Saudi-led coalition, UAE planes have successfully carried out attacks for a year with no planes reported missing until now. The UAE plane that has gone missing on this mission to Yemen is the first plane to become a casualty of the conflict, which Associated Press reports has taken a significant toll on the UAE and its neighboring nations.
“The war in the Arab world’s poorest nation has killed more than 6,000 people and created what the United Nations warns is a ‘humanitarian catastrophe,’” reports AP.“…some 7.6 million people [are now] ‘severely food insecure’ and 3.4 million children [are] out of school.”
Though this UAE plane is the first plane to fall in the bloody Yemen conflict, the UAE and Saudi Arabia have paid the heaviest prices of all the Emirati nations as part of the rebel-fighting coalition of the middle east. Moreover— both the UAE and Saudi military forces have been criticized by the United Nations for causing civilian casualties. Dozens of UAE soldiers have died alongside the estimated 6,000 casualties of the war— half of those were civilians. In the wake of the UAE plane going missing over Yemen, in a conflict already tearing its nation apart, the United Nations has growing concerns for the UAE, according to Al Jazeera.
“The conflict has led to a humanitarian crisis across the country. More than 21 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, while the World Health Organization has warned that Yemen’s healthcare system is ‘on the brink of collapse,’” says Al Jazeera of the war-ravaged region in which the plane went missing.
When a Saudi plane crashed due to a technical error in December of last year, the Houthi rebels were quick to claim responsibility for the downing of the plane. UAE authorities firmly denied the claims about the plane having fallen victim to a Houthi attack. The Yemen conflict began two years ago, and UAE Air strikes began in March of last year. Since then, a Moroccan war plane was taken down while on mission in Yemen.
News outlets around the world await further information from Emirates officials, which have released only the brief statement above in relation to the UAE plane reported missing on mission to Yemen to fight Houthi rebels hours ago.
[Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images]