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UAE blocks drone attack claimed by obscure Iraqi militia

The little-known Iraqi militia called the True Promise Brigades claims to have attacked the UAE for its involvement in Yemen and Iraq
UAE Armed Forces perform the joint Emirates Shield/50 military drill west of the Maritime Theatre in Abu Dhabi on 11 January 2022 (Reuters)

The United Arab Emirates said on Wednesday that it intercepted three drones entering its airspace, an attack claimed by a little-known Iraqi militia.

The True Promise Brigades justified their attack citing UAE’s interference in Yemen and Iraq.

The UAE has been the target of several attacks in recent weeks as the Yemeni Houthi movement - with which the Gulf country is at war in Yemen as part of a Saudi-led military coalition - launched three other assaults using similar means.

However, the Houthis have not announced a new operation, nor have they claimed responsibility for the latest attack.

The True Promise Brigades has previously claimed only one other attack back in January 2021, when it said it launched a drone in Saudi Arabia.

Iraqi intelligence and security officials are not familiar with the group, according to Reuters, and it is unclear whether it is capable of such attacks or whether it is tied to an Iran-affiliated militia.

The group is believed to have ties to Iraq’s Hezbollah Brigades that was previously under the direct control of Qassem Soleimani, a top Iranian commander assassinated by the US in January 2020.

UAE’s defence ministry has said in a statement that it is "ready to deal with any threats" and was taking "all necessary measures to protect the state and its territory”.

Following repeated attacks by the Houthis in previous weeks, the United States said on Tuesday it is sending fighter jets to assist its Gulf ally in fending off attacks.  

The recent attacks are an escalation in the seven-year war in Yemen, in which Houthi rebels have been launching assaults on Saudi Arabia in response to the Saudi-led coalition's air strikes and economic blockade.

But last month, Houthi attacks were extended to the UAE, after Emirati-backed local groups joined the fight against the rebels.

Security analysts believe that if the Iraqi militia's claims are confirmed, it could mean there is an uptick of violence involving Iran-affiliated militias opposing the Saudi-led coalition in the war.

"If Alwiyat al-Waad al-Haq came out of hibernation and did launch drones at the UAE ... then this was likely an Iran-directed or at very least Iran-tolerated operation," Michael Knights at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy said in a Twitter post, using the True Promise Brigades's Arabic name.

Tehran has previously called for a diplomatic solution to the war in Yemen, but it has not addressed the attack by the Iraqi militia.  

The Iranian foreign minister on Wednesday discussed with his Emirati counterpart the situation in Yemen, according to Reuters.