The United States has reaffirmed its commitment to the security and stability of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) following two attacks on the Gulf state in the span of a week carried out by the Iran-backed Houthis.
US and Emirati forces on Monday (January 24) intercepted two ballistic missiles fired by the Houthis towards Al-Dhafra air base in the skies over Abu Dhabi.
US forces "engaged two inbound missile threats with multiple Patriot interceptors coincident to efforts by the armed forces of the UAE", US Central Command spokesman Captain Bill Urban said in a Monday statement.
"The combined efforts successfully prevented both missiles from impacting the base," he said, adding, "US forces at Al-Dhafra remain vigilant and ready to respond in case of any follow-on attacks."
The US military has approximately 2,000 service members and personnel at Al-Dhafra.
Separately, missiles were fired on Saudi Arabia in regions bordering Yemen, with two people wounded in Jizan, and another missile intercepted over Dhahran al-Janub, also in the kingdom's southwest.
An Emirati F-16 fighter jet on Monday destroyed a Houthi missile launcher in al-Jawf in northern Yemen "immediately after it launched two ballistic missiles at Abu Dhabi", the UAE said.
A week earlier, the Houthis claimed a rare and deadly attack on Abu Dhabi's Msaffah neighbourhood with ballistic missiles and armed drones.
Two Indians and a Pakistani working for Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) died in the January 17 attack, and six others were wounded.
The Saudi-led Arab coalition, of which the UAE is a key member, hit back with a series of air strikes in Yemen.
"We reaffirm our commitment to help strengthen the defence of our Saudi and Emirati partners," US State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a Monday statement.
"These attacks on the UAE and Saudi Arabia, as well as recent air strikes in Yemen that killed civilians, represent a troubling escalation that only exacerbates the suffering of the Yemeni people," Price said.
After the January 17 attack on Abu Dhabi, the United States said it would continue to stand by the UAE in the face of threats to its security.
"Our commitment to the security of the UAE is unwavering and we stand beside our Emirati partners against all threats to their territory," National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said in a statement.
The United States will "work with the UAE and international partners to hold [the Houthis] accountable", he said.
Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin later discussed military and security co-operation, and means of boosting defence co-ordination, in a January 19 call.
They discussed the threat the Houthis pose to regional security and stability, and "the need to take a firm international stance toward such aggressive practices", a statement said.
In early January, the Houthis hijacked a UAE-flagged ship in the Red Sea, after they were driven back by UAE-trained forces in the key province of Shabwa -- their platform for attacking the strategically vital city of Marib further north.
The loss was a blow to Houthi efforts to gain full control of Yemen's north.
The Houthis lost another key district south of Marib on Tuesday, when they were driven out of Harib district, the UAE-trained Giants Brigade said.
The UAE announced a troop withdrawal from Yemen in 2019. But it maintains support and training for pro-government forces, including the Giants Brigade.