Sana’a (GPA) – Yemen used its new air defense system to shoot down a fighter jet belonging to the Saudi coalition. Saudi Arabia responded by bombing a civilian area, killing at least 30 people and injuring several more.

On Friday, Yemen’s military used a new domestically produced air defense system to shoot down a British-made Tornado aircraft violating Yemeni airspace in al-Jouf province. Saudi Arabia routinely targets civilian homes, infrastructure, and gatherings so shooting down Saudi coalition aircraft is vital to preserving civilian lives.

Yemen shoots down Tornado jet, Saudi airstrikes kill 30 civilians in response
The remains of the Tornado fighter jet shot down.

Yemeni military sources and officials have hinted the Saudi pilot was not killed in the crash.

Vice-President of the Shura Council, Muhammad Al-Bukhaiti said:

“The aerial aggression was searching for the pilots to kill them, not to save them. It bombed every movement in the vicinity of the crash, including the homes of the citizens, which caused the killing (and wounding) of more than 40 civilians, including children and women.”

Photos circulated on Telegram depicting the injured pilot as well.

Saudi media hasn’t commented on the pilot as of yet. However, Riyadh has admitted to the “crash” of a Royal Saudi Air Force fighter jet.

A senior Yemeni military source told Al-Masirah new technology was used to shoot down the invading aircraft. The source did not reveal details but called it a “new, domestically-designed, and sophisticated air defense system.”

Yemen has spent the entirety of the war, which will enter its sixth year at the end of March, building its defensive arsenal with domestically produced missiles and technology. Before Saudi Arabia launched its war against Yemen, Sana’a was completely dependent on foreign countries for military aid, such as the United States, Saudi Arabia, and the United Kingdom. Today, however, Yemen has domestically produced air defense systems, torpedos, kamikaze drones, and much more.

Yemen’s military capabilities have changed the course of the war, which Riyadh never expected to last this long. The kingdom spends a reported $200 million per day in Yemen.

Yemeni air defense zones in on the Tornado fighter jet

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The Yemeni drone strike on Saudi Aramco, for example, was a major blow to the kingdom’s already struggling economy. Reports show Riyadh will import oil to cover lost production through at least December 2020.

In a display of barbarity and ruthlessness, Riyadh responded to the downing of its Tornado fighter jet by targeting civilian areas in Yemen — a common practice for the kingdom.

Airstrikes targeted civilians, also in al-Jouf province, killing at least 30 civilians and injuring several others. First responders struggled to enter the scene to provide medical care to survivors because Saudi warplanes continued hovering overhead. It’s common for Riyadh to carry out the practice of “double-tap” airstrikes that involve circling back around after dropping a bomb to attack ambulances and media crews.

These events come just weeks after Sana’a announced Yemen’s Army and Popular Committees led by Ansarullah have liberated all of Nehm district from Saudi-backed mercenaries. Days ago, Sana’a revealed its forces had also liberated key locations in al-Jouf province. Next, Yemeni forces will work to liberate Marib. The Saudi coalition currently occupies oil fields in Marib province with the United States.

The front in Hodeidah is still ongoing, however. Saudi-backed mercenaries razed homes here to the ground last week and fired mortars and artillery at civilian areas, killing and injuring multiple people including a small child.

Yemen shoots down Tornado jet, Saudi airstrikes kill 30 civilians in response
The home damaged by Saudi airstrikes, killing 30.

Over 100 thousand civilians have died since Saudi Arabia launched its war in March of 2015 with the Obama administration’s blessing. This figure does not take into account the thousands of civilian lives lost to the devastating blockade which restricts imports, exports, and the flow of movement.

Riyadh strictly controls all aid flowing into Yemen in an effort to manufacture a humanitarian crisis and spread disease such as cholera. 22 million Yemenis, out of a population of 29 million, require urgent humanitarian aid to survive, mostly in the form of food or medical care.

Millions of Yemenis live on the brink of famine. Yemen’s Health Ministry spokesman told Geopolitics Alert in October the remaining hospitals were preparing to close citing a lack of fuel to power generators and a shortage of supplies. Pregnant women, diabetics, children, and patients with chronic conditions like cancer are most at risk.

The United States has provided full military support to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates including precision-guided smart missiles, fighter jets, fuel, naval support, training on the ground, logistics, and intelligence for selecting airstrike targets. US troops also man some Saudi command centers, Yemeni intelligence exposed last year.

A United Nations report confirmed in 2018 the Saudi coalition intentionally targets civilians, pointing to its use of precision-guided smart weapons, after an attack on a school bus full of children.