Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 21 November 2019

Saudi Arabia downs Houthi drones in second attack on Abha airport

The missile hit a civilian airport in the south-west mountain resort of Abha

Saudi Arabia intercepted five drones launched by Yemen’s Houthi rebels on Friday in another attack on Abha airport two days after a missile strike injured 26 people there.

The Saudi-led coalition, which intervened in 2015 in Yemen's civil war to restore the government of President Abdrabu Mansur Hadi, said it intercepted five drones that targeted Abha airport and Khamis Mushait in the same region.

"The Royal Saudi Air Defence Force and Air Force successfully intercepted and destroyed five unmanned drone aircraft launched by Houthi militia towards Abha international airport and Khamis Mushait," the coalition statement said without reporting any casualties.

The airport was operating normally with no flights disrupted, the statement added.

A Houthi television channel said the Iran-backed rebels launched several drone strikes against Abha regional airport in southern Saudi Arabia. The rebels also claimed responsibility for the missile attack on the airport on Wednesday.

The coalition, which had vowed to respond to the missile strike, said on Thursday it had destroyed Houthi military assets on the outskirts of the rebel-held capital Sanaa. The operation targeted "foreign experts from terrorist organisations working with the Houthis" but did not identify their nationality or say whether they had been hit.

"The targets that were destroyed in Yemen include missile depots, weapons and manufacturing plants," said a coalition statement.

Coalition leaders Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates accuse Iran's Revolutionary Guard and Lebanon's Iran-backed Hezbollah of supporting the Houthis, a charge all three deny.

The Houthi-run Masirah TV said coalition airplanes bombed three sites, including military targets belonging to Houthi forces, on the outskirts of Sanaa. Residents told Reuters the strikes had targeted military camps west and north of the city.

The Houthis have stepped up missile and drone attacks against Saudi cities as tensions have risen between Iran and Gulf Arab states allied with the United States. Last month, the group carried out drone strikes on two Saudi oil pumping stations.

At the same time, six oil tankers have been targeted in two separate attacks in the Gulf of Oman. Two tankers were hit on Thursday while heading to ports in Asia, just weeks after four tankers were sabotaged by explosions while at anchor off the UAE coast on May 12. The US has blamed Iran for both attacks, although Tehran denies responsibility.

Tehran and Washington have engaged in a war of words since the United States reimposed sanctions on Tehran and increased its military presence in the Gulf.

Updated: June 15, 2019 03:12 AM

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