Moroccan warplane possibly downed in Yemen war

Friday 15/05/2015
An image grab taken from the Houthi rebel television station Al-Maseera shows Yemeni tribesmen around the wreckage of a plane bearing a Moroccan flag.

Shia rebels in Yemen claimed to have shot down a Moroccan F-16 fighter jet taking part in a Saudi-led coalition targeting them and their allies, just before a five-day humanitarian ceasefire was to begin. Morocco’s military, howev­er, only would say that the jet had gone missing May 10th.

Photos purporting to show the wreckage of the Moroccan aircraft on social media networks had armed tribesmen and children pos­ing next to wreckage that bore the North African kingdom’s national colours of red and green. A corpse was also seen.

A video clip also posted on so­cial media purported to show a reporter from the rebels’ televi­sion station al-Maseera visiting the site of the crash in the northern Saada province and tribesmen posing with parts of plane’s fuse­lage or triumphantly punching the air with fisted hands. “This plane was downed by God,” shouted one tribesman.

The rebels and their allies in Yemen’s splintered armed forces routinely fire anti-aircraft guns at warplanes strike the country since the Saudi-led campaign began March 26th.

Morocco’s state news agency MAP, citing a military statement, reported the pilot of a second jet said he did not see the pilot of the missing fighter eject.

The military said it had launched an investigation into the incident.

Morocco has six F-16 jets sta­tioned in the United Arab Emirates taking part in the Saudi-led coali­tion.

If confirmed, the Moroccan F-16 would be the second fighter jet to go down in the conflict.

During the early days of the air campaign, a jet crashed in the Arabian Sea off Yemen’s southern coast but the pilot and co-pilot were picked up by a nearby navy vessel.

Technical problems were said to have caused the crash.