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Injured Emirati soldiers eager to get back to the frontline

Saif Al Kaabi, Abdulaziz Al Bloushi and Abdulrahman Al Qaydi all survived the Houthi strike … and all are keen to return to their brothers on Yemen’s frontline to finish the job they started.

ABU DHABI // Lying in his hospital bed, Saif Al Kaabi can only think about getting back to the front line.

The 26-year-old from Hatta was one of dozens of soldiers injured in Yemen last week in an attack by Houthi rebels, which killed 45 Emirati servicemen.

The welcome he had received on coming home was daunting, said Saif, whose left leg was injured in the rocket attack.

“I’ve been received as a hero but I don’t feel like a hero. I feel like I haven’t done enough. There’s more that I’d like to do and I look forward to my return to complete my duty.”

As soon as he laid his hands on a phone after he had been injured, Saif called the first person he thought of: his father.

“As soon as the attack happened my dad was the first person that I called. I didn’t want him to worry and I knew that he’d tell everyone that I was fine. His kept in touch with my friends. We’re all one,” he said.

It was a call that Saif’s father will not forget.

“As soon as he told me he was fine I asked about his friends and he told me that they had minor injuries and I was pleased to hear that, especially hearing the determination and resolve in his voice.

“He told me, ‘Dad, we’re going to be OK. We’re going to return and finish what we came here to achieve’. I couldn’t be more proud of my son.”

Looking at his son in hospital, his father said he shared the pain of loss with the families of those men who did not return.

“I’ve spoken to several of the fathers who’ve lost their sons. The loss is deep, but there’s an immense amount of pride that I’ve seen. Martyrdom is the greatest honour that any soldier can have.

“I still have my son but he, me and all of us would not hesitate one second to answer the call of duty.”

In another hospital in the capital, 27-year-old Abdulaziz Al Bloushi, who was receiving treatment to remove shrapnel from his legs, said the thing he cherished most in coming home was seeing his two children.

As he recovers, Abdulaziz said he prayed for victory and looked forward to getting back into shape and back into the fight for justice.

“The nation gave me everything. They treated us well and with respect. As soon as I am treated, I want to be back with my brothers. And I pray for my brothers in Yemen,” he said.

When she heard of the attack, Abdulaziz’s wife, Athari, said she felt in her heart that something had happened to him.

“I didn’t know if I should be happy or not. But he came back and I am happy. And if he was martyred, I would have been happy as well,” she said.

The urge to rejoin their fellow soldiers was a common sentiment – one shared by 22-year-old Abdulrahman Al Qaydi and his family, some of whom crowded around his bed.

Ahmad, his brother, said he was thankful for Abdulrahman’s return and prayed for the dead.

“We were there to receive them and all doctors and nurses were available and the country’s children, and to them we say a special thank you,” he said.

“Thankfully, my brother received the needed treatment and his seniors came to check on him. This is a proud moment, and their visit is a humanitarian act.”

The deaths of the 45 men has sent a strong message to the country, Ahmad said.

“It is a proud moment for us. If it were for us, we would all also answer the call of duty.

“We are ready to give support, and we have no excuse. This is our homeland and you are all our brothers. If we are needed we will serve the country.

“Our leaders didn’t hesitate in helping us. They have raised us for years, and we can’t count their blessings on us.

“They provided us with schools and hospitals, and we are capable of defending our nation now that we are older.”

Abdulrahman’s father, Faisal, echoed the thoughts of some of his peers, saying that the nation was in pain, both for the deaths of its sons and for the injured.

“They are all our children. They are all serving the nation,” he said.

“First comes Allah, then the President, and then the nation. And there is no greater pride.”

Hassan Al Naqbi, 21, another of the injured men, said his scars would serve as a reminder of his duty to his country.

“All my injuries are in the service of the nation. To death, we will move forward.”

He, too, prayed for those still fighting in Yemen, as well as offering prayers for the dead.

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(via The National)