Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 15 November 2019

Saudi-backed Yemen forces attack Houthi sites

The attack comes a day after Riyadh said an oil pipeline that runs across Saudi Arabia was hit by drones

A member of Yemeni pro-government forces takes part in military operations on Houthi positions in Al Dhalea on April 1, 2019. Yemeni forces say they have killed 97 Houthi rebel fighters and captured 120. EPA File photo
A member of Yemeni pro-government forces takes part in military operations on Houthi positions in Al Dhalea on April 1, 2019. Yemeni forces say they have killed 97 Houthi rebel fighters and captured 120. EPA File photo

Forces of the internationally recognised Yemeni government, which is backed by a Saudi-led coalition, killed 97 Houthi forces and captured 120 in the governorate of Al Dhalea, Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television said on Wednesday, citing military sources.

No further details about the military operation were available.

The attack comes a day after Riyadh said that an oil pipeline that runs across Saudi Arabia was hit on Tuesday by drones, as regional tensions continued to flare.

Responding to the attack on Saudi, the UK's Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt said it was "not just wrong but undermines the trust needed to resolve the conflict" in Yemen.

Mr Hunt, however, also emphasised that it is "not the time for provocation" when progress has been made in the peace process.

The Houthis, who are fighting coaltion forces in Yemen, said on Tuesday they launched seven drones targeting vital Saudi installations, without elaborating. They later claimed responsibility for the pipeline attack in comments broadcast by Houthi military spokesman Brig Gen Yahya Sari.

The pipeline that runs from the kingdom's oil-rich Eastern Province to a Red Sea port was shut down, but Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al Falih vowed that the production and export of Saudi oil would not be interrupted.

In a statement carried by the state-run Saudi Press Agency, Mr Al Falih called the pipeline attack "cowardly," saying recent acts of sabotage against the kingdom were targeting not only Saudi Arabia but also the safety of the world's energy supply and global economy.

The Saudis did not immediately assign blame for the drone assaults.

Still, Mr Al Falih named Yemeni rebel Houthis in his statement as a group that must be internationally confronted and accused them of being backed by Iran, Saudi Arabia's regional rival.

"These attacks prove again that it is important for us to face terrorist entities, including the Houthi militias in Yemen that are backed by Iran," Al Falih said in an English-language statement issued by his ministry.

A fifth of global oil consumption passes through the Strait of Hormuz from Middle East crude producers to major markets in Asia, Europe, North America and beyond.

The drone strikes reflect how the Houthis have tried to expand their capabilities during the four-year war. The rebels have targeted Riyadh with missiles and used drones to disrupt air traffic at Saudi airports near the Yemen border. Iran has been accused by the US and the UN of supplying ballistic missile technology and arms to the Houthis, which Tehran denies.

Updated: May 15, 2019 06:44 PM

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