France said Friday it will help its ally the United Arab Emirates secure its airspace following drone and missile attacks by Yemeni rebels.
The UAE announced the interception and destruction on Wednesday of three “hostile drones,” which follows three previous drone and missile attacks claimed by Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels since January 17.
The UAE’s staunch ally the United States has deployed a warship and fighter planes to help protect the Middle East financial and leisure hub, usually a safe haven in the volatile region.
French Defense Minister Florence Parly said on Friday that the UAE had suffered “serious attacks on their territory since January.”
“To show our solidarity with this friendly country, France has decided to provide military backing, notably to protect their airspace from any intrusion,” she tweeted.
Des avions de combat Rafale, qui appartiennent à notre dispositif permanent basé à Abou Dabi, sont ainsi engagés aux côtés des forces armées émiriennes dans des missions de surveillance, de détection et d’interception en cas de besoin. pic.twitter.com/Zvy61yTr4M
— Florence Parly (@florence_parly) February 4, 2022
France is also helping the UAE with aerial surveillance, using Rafale fighter jets stationed at France’s air base in Abu Dhabi, she said.
The UAE defense ministry confirmed that it was activating its defense cooperation agreement with France, a measure it said was discussed by its joint operations commander Major General Saleh al-Amiri on a visit to Paris.
The UAE has signed successive defense agreements with France since the 1990s, notably a 2008 accord which granted France its first permanent military base in the Gulf at Al Dhafra military airport.
French troops in the UAE currently number around 650, a French defense ministry official said.
A little-known group called the Alwiyat al-Waad al-Haq (True Pledge Brigades), which is believed to have ties with pro-Iran armed factions in Iraq, said it launched four drones at dawn on Wednesday targeting the wealthy Gulf state.