“The two armed vessels had been threatening a commercial oil tanker,” according to a statement released by the UAE military and carried by WAM.

“Two other [Houthi] vessels managed to flee the scene,” the statement added.

The UAE is a member of a Saudi-led military coalition cobbled together in 2015 to fight Yemen’s Houthi rebel group, which overran much of Yemen — including capital Sanaa — one year earlier.

In a related development, the Yemeni army announced Wednesday that it had captured several Houthi positions in Yemen’s northern Al-Jawf province.

“The army has liberated the strategic Amhur Mountain region, thus cutting Houthi supply lines,” Army Brigadier-General Hadi al-Geidi was quoted as saying in an army-linked news website.

Army forces, he added, were now advancing on Al-Jawf’s Bart Al-Anan district.

At least 15 Houthi militants were killed in the fighting, he said, adding that Saudi-led coalition warplanes had struck a number of rebel positions “destroying scores of armored vehicles and a field hospital”.

Houthi officials, for their part, have not issued any statements confirming or denying either claim.

In 2015, Saudi Arabia and its Sunni-Arab allies launched a wide-ranging military campaign aimed at rolling back Houthi influence in Yemen.

Riyadh has repeatedly accused the Houthis of acting as a proxy force for Shia Iran, Saudi Arabia’s arch-foe in the region.

Yeni safak

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