Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 12 December 2019

Houthis fire missile at Saudi Arabia, says Arab coalition

The US president has been briefed on the attack in Jizan province

File photo of damage of Saudi Arabia's Abha airport after it was attacked by Yemen's Houthi group in Abha, Saudi Arabia June 13, 2019. Reuters
File photo of damage of Saudi Arabia's Abha airport after it was attacked by Yemen's Houthi group in Abha, Saudi Arabia June 13, 2019. Reuters

The Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen said that a missile fired by Houthi rebels into the Kingdom overnight on Wednesday landed near a desalination plant and caused no damage.

The Coalition said it is still determining the type of projectile that had been used to target infrastructure in the southern province of Jizan.

The Houthi rebels, who have previously threatened to hit 300 sites on a list of what they say is strategic infrastructure, said a cruise missile had hit and knocked out an electricity station in the Shuqaiq water facility.

US officials said that President Donald Trump had been briefed about the incident. “We are closely monitoring the situation and continuing to consult with our partners and allies,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement.

In recent weeks, Houthi rebels have increased drone and missile strikes on southern Saudi cities. An attack on the commercial airport in Abha earlier this month injured 26.

Pentagon spokeswoman Navy Commander Rebecca Rebarich said such attacks were "a significant cause for concern and (put) innocent lives at risk".

The group has stepped up missile and drone attacks on Saudi Arabia in recent months as tensions increased between Iran and the United States. In recent weeks, Houthi rebels have increased drone and missile strikes on southern Saudi cities. An attack on the commercial airport in Abha earlier this month injured 26.

Concern about a war in the region has grown following attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman last week and on four tankers off the United Arab Emirates on May 12, both near the Strait of Hormuz, a major conduit for global oil supplies.

The United States and Saudi Arabia blamed Iran, which has denied responsibility.

Iran shot down a US drone which the elite Revolutionary Guards said on Thursday was flying over southern Iran. A US official said it had been shot down in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz.

The Houthis also targeted two Saudi oil pumping stations last month and a Houthi attack last week on Saudi Arabia's Abha airport wounded 26, Saudi authorities said.

The group, which ousted the Saudi-backed internationally recognised government from power in Yemen's capital Sanaa in late 2014, stepped up attacks on Saudi Arabia after a lull last year ahead of UN-led efforts to end a war that has killed thousands and pushed Yemen to the brink of famine.

To counter Iran's threats, the US military has sent forces including aircraft carriers, B-52 bombers and troops to the Middle East. But the United States, Iran and Saudi Arabia have all said they do not want a war in the region.

Tension between Iran and the United States has spiked since last year when Trump withdrew from a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and major powers and reimposed sanctions on Tehran.

Updated: June 20, 2019 03:09 PM

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