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Yemen: UN team finds Houthis behind Aden airport attack that killed 22

The experts say that no other Yemeni faction has the ability or the technology to carry out such an attack
Houthi soldiers march during a funeral procession for Houthi fighters killed in recent fighting against government forces in Marib province, in Sanaa (Reuters)

Yemen's Houthi group was responsible for a 30 December attack on Aden's airport that killed at least 22 people, according to a report by a UN team of experts.

Two diplomats familiar with the matter told Reuters on Monday that the Houthis launched missiles at the airport in the southern port city from two locations that were under the movement’s control at the time, the airport in Taiz and a police station in Dhamar.

The experts found that the missiles were the same kind as those used previously by the Houthis, they said.

The missiles landed as members of Hadi’s government arrived at the airport to join separatists who control Aden in a new cabinet as part of a Saudi effort to end feuding between its Yemeni allies.

At least 22 people died and dozens more were wounded in the attack.

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No Cabinet minister was killed, but the dead included government officials and three International Committee of the Red Cross staff members.

The experts presented their report to the UN committee that oversees Yemen-related sanctions during closed consultations on Friday, but Russia blocked its wider release, the diplomats said.

They asked for anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Peace initiative

The Iran-aligned Houthis denied responsibility for the attack when it took place.

The diplomats did not elaborate on why Russia blocked the release of the findings. The Russian mission to the United Nations did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

The report comes at a sensitive time for new US President Joe Biden as his administration and the United Nations press the Houthis to accept a peace initiative that includes a ceasefire.

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Saudi Arabia and the Yemeni government have endorsed the initiative but the Houthis say it does not go far enough.

The Houthi movement, which controls most of Yemen's north, has been fighting forces loyal to President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi’s internationally recognised government and a Saudi-led coalition in what is widely seen as a proxy war between Tehran and Riyadh.

During Friday’s briefing to the sanctions committee, the diplomats said, the experts said the missile launches from the two Houthi-controlled locations were coordinated.

When asked if any other party could have been responsible, they replied that all evidence indicated that no other Yemeni faction had the ability or the technology to stage such an attack, the diplomats said.

The war in Yemen has more than 230,000 lives and created the world’s worst humanitarian disaster – exacerbated by an air and land siege imposed by the Saudi-led coalition - with the United Nations estimating that 80 percent of the population needs assistance.

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