DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Twenty-seven soldiers from the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain
were reported killed on Friday while taking part in the military campaign led by Saudi Arabia against Yemen’s Houthi insurgent group. It appeared to be the deadliest day for the Saudi-led forces since their offensive began six months ago.
Saudi Arabia and a coalition of other Sunni Muslim Persian Gulf states have been fighting since March to restore Yemen’s exiled government and repel the Houthis, who are aligned with Iran. The Houthis took control of Yemen’s capital, Sana, last September.
The state news agency of the United Arab Emirates said on Friday that 22 Emirati soldiers were killed in Yemen, while Bahrain’s official news agency said five soldiers were killed while protecting the southern borders of neighboring Saudi Arabia.
“A rocket and an explosion at a weapons cache has targeted the martyrs,” Anwar Gargash, the Emirati minister of state for foreign affairs, said on Twitter on Friday.
The Houthis said they fired a rocket at a weapons cache in a camp used by gulf coalition forces in the central Marib area, killing dozens of Emirati and Yemeni soldiers and destroying a number of Apache helicopters and armed vehicles.
Residents in Marib said they saw fire raging at the camp and plumes of smoke.
Before the latest casualties, at least five Emirati soldiers had been killed in Yemen since the offensive began.
Militias and army units loyal to President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who is taking refuge in Saudi Arabia, have made advances toward the Houthi-controlled capital in the past two months. But the group remains ensconced in Yemen’s north, and military and civilian casualties mount daily.
The coalition has been supporting anti-Houthi fighters with airstrikes, military training and the delivery of tanks and heavy artillery.
Gulf states regard the Houthis as a proxy of their archrival, Shiite Iran, while the Houthis say they are fighting a revolution against corrupt officials beholden to the West.