Hisham: Malaysian army not being sent to fight in Yemen

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian troops have not been deployed to Yemen to fight, and are instead participating in a long-standing military exercise in Saudi Arabia, says Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein (pix).

In a statement, the Defence Minister said that the so-called "Thunder of the North" multi-national military exercise had been taking place for more than 15 years, long before the start of any Saudi-led military operation in Yemen.

"The exercise involves ground, air and naval forces from 20 countries, including Malaysia.

"It takes place from Feb 16 till March 4 at the Hafar al Batin training ground in northern Saudi Arabia, while the nation's border with Yemen is in the south.

"Therefore, this exercise has nothing to do with the military campaign against Yemen," he said.

However, Hishammuddin added that Malaysia supported efforts to combat militant activities.

He also said Malaysia accepted the invitation from Saudi Arabia to participate in the exercise as they would gain valuable experience from training in a different environment.

"This is the first time the army has participated in this exercise and it will surely be beneficial to them.

"The training will also provide the army with better knowledge and understanding of ways to prepare for the distribution of humanitarian aid in case of disaster," he said, adding that it would also increase the preparedness in evacuating Malaysians from conflict zones.