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UAE denies missile claim as Yemen street fighting enters fifth day

(China Daily) Updated: 2017-12-04 07:21

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - The United Arab Emirates on Sunday denied a claim by Yemen's Houthi rebels that a missile had been fired toward the country's underconstruction nuclear plant.

The rebels claimed they had launched a missile toward the plant in Abu Dhabi in the first such strike toward the country.

"The National Emergency and Crisis and Disasters Management Authority denies the claim that the Houthis fired a missile toward the country," the UAE's state-run WAM news agency said.

"The UAE possesses an air defense system capable of dealing with any threat of any type or kind."

The statement added that the nuclear power plant was well-protected.

The National, a newspaper in Abu Dhabi, also reported that Barakah's operations were "unaffected on Sunday, while sources on the ground confirmed there were no signs of an attack to the structure."

The Houthis last month targeted the Saudi capital, Riyadh, with a ballistic missile that was intercepted by Saudi air defenses. It was the deepest strike inside the kingdom since the war between the Saudi-led coalition and the Houthis and their allies began in March 2015.

Sunday's claim came amid heavy fighting in Yemen's capital, Sanaa, where the Houthis are facing off with fighters loyal to the country's former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, in the fifth straight day of street fighting as the alliance between the two unravels.

More than 80 people have been killed in the clashes, with about 120 injured.

The Houthis have accused Saleh of striking deals with the Saudi-led coalition, which has been waging an air campaign against the Houthi-Saleh alliance for nearly three years.

The UAE is an active member of the coalition and its forces have mostly focused on securing the southern region of Yemen. The country has lost 100 soldiers in the conflict.

Senior Houthi official Deif-Allah al-Shami said that the missile fired toward Abu Dhabi was a "message to the United Arab Emiratis for its political and financial support to Saleh".

He said that the UAE has hosted members of Saleh's family, including his son who was an ambassador to the UAE and believed to be residing there during the conflict.

The nearly three years of war in Yemen have killed over 10,000 people, mostly civilians, and pushed the Arab country into a humanitarian catastrophe and near mass famine.

Xinhua - AP

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