DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The U.S. military launched interceptor missiles during an attack by Yemen’s Houthi rebels on the United Arab Emirates to coincide with a visit by Israel’s president, the second time U.S. forces have opened fire, according to officials.
The recognition by the White House and the Pentagon on Monday night highlights the expansion of US involvement in the long Yemeni war, a conflict that has caused a serious humanitarian crisis and that the president of the United States, Joe Biden , declared almost a year ago that “it has to end”.
Although the United States no longer provides offensive backing to the Saudi-led coalition fighting on behalf of Yemen’s exiled government, its involvement in defending the Emirates comes at a time when the Houthis declared the Al-Dhafra air base , in Abu Dhabi, as a target. Al-Dhafra is home to more than 2,000 US troops and has served as a major hub for everything from armed drones to F-35 stealth fighters.
From the White House, press secretary Jen Psaki said the US military “responded to the missile threat on Emitaros.”
“This included the use of Patriot interceptors to … (support) the efforts of the Emirati armed forces,” he added. “I would say we are working very closely with them.”
“American Patriots were fired, but it was the Emirati surface-to-air missiles that actually hit the targets,” explained Pentagon press officer John Kirby.
Asked if that included targets outside Al-Dhafra, he added: “If we can help defend our Emirati partners, we will.”
The Emirates military, as was the case with a similar incident last week, did not acknowledge the involvement of the US military. The autocratic nation, a federation of seven kingdoms on the Arabian Peninsula, has threatened anyone who records an attack or response with criminal charges.
Gambrell is on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jongambrellAP.