Arabic | Kurdish

How Yemen's rebels increasingly deploy drones

2019/01/11 | 12:40

(Iraq Now News)- In Yemen, the high-pitched whine of drones has been a part

of life for over 15 years, ever since the first US drone strike here targeting

al-Qaeda in 2002.

On Thursday, an attack on a military base where America once

ran its drone program showed that the US is no longer the only force deploying

them, the AP reported.The attack by Yemen’s Shiite Houthi rebels that killed at

least six people shows how the Arab world’s poorest country has become one of

the world’s top battlefields for drones.

Both the rebels and the Saudi-led

coalition fighting them, as well as the US, continue to use them for

surveillance and attacks.But while the US uses American-made drones and the coalition

has turned to Chinese suppliers, the manufacturer of the Houthis’ drones in

both the air and the sea has been a contentious question.Iran linkA 2018 report by a United Nations panel of experts on Yemen

looked particularly at the Houthis’ Qatef-1 drone.“Although Houthi-aligned media announced that the

Sana’a-based ministry of defence manufactured the (drone), in reality they are

assembled from components supplied by an outside source and shipped into

Yemen,” the report said.

The Qatef, or “Striker,” ″is virtually identical in

design, dimensions and capability to that of the Ababil-T, manufactured by the

Iran Aircraft Manufacturing Industries.”The Ababil-T can deliver up to a 45-kilogram (100-pound)

warhead up to 150 kilometers (95 miles) away.The Qatef-2K, which the Houthis said they used in Thursday’s

attack, similarly resembles the Iranian designs.A research group called Conflict Armament Research, with the

permission of the United Arab Emirates’ elite Presidential Guard, also examined

seized drones used by the Houthis and their allies to crash into Patriot

missile batteries in Saudi Arabia.The research group similarly said those drones share

“near-identical design and construction characteristics” of Iranian drones.Drone boatCoalition forces last year also showed journalists a Houthi

“drone boat” filled with explosives that failed to detonate.The officials also shared black-and-white images they said

came from the “drone boat.” They said the pictures and associated data from the

boat’s computer showed Iranians building components for its guidance system in

eastern Tehran, with a hat in the background of one picture bearing the symbol

of Iran’s hard-line paramilitary Revolutionary Guard.They said those involved in building the components probably

believed it would be destroyed in the blast, so they didn’t wipe the computer’s

hard drive.For its part, Iran repeatedly has denied supplying the

Houthis with drone or ballistic missile technology.

However, Iran would have an

interest in seeing Saudi Arabia, its arch-rival in the region, tied down in a

bloody, protracted conflict with no clear end in sight.

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