Fire at Saudi Arabia airport after Houthi drone attack

Houthi drones intercepted by Saudi for the third day this week

A Saudi security officer walks past the Saudi Arabia's Abha airport, after it was attacked by Yemen's Houthi group in Abha, Saudi Arabia June 13, 2019. REUTERS/Faisal al Nasser
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

A small fire in a civilian aircraft was brought under control by firefighters after a Houthi drone attack on an airport in the south-west of Saudi Arabia, the Riyadh-led coalition in Yemen said on Wednesday.

Scheduled flights at Abha International Airport were delayed for take-off and landing, according to flight-tracking websites.

It is the third day this week the coalition intercepted Houthi drones fired at the southern region of the kingdom, which borders Yemen.

The coalition called the attack a war crime and said that it will “hold Houthis accountable in accordance with international law."

The coalition also said it destroyed two armed drones at the civilian Abha Airport, close to the Yemeni border, as the Houthi militia continue to intensify its attacks on Saudi Arabia.

Coalition spokesman Turki Al Malki said the attack targeted civilians and civilian infrastructure but did not reveal the type of weapon used in the attack.

Yousef Al Othaimeen, secretary general of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, condemned the terror attack and the Houthi militia’s targeting of civilians in Saudi Arabia.

The UAE "strongly condemned and denounced" the attack, which "is tantamount to a war crime that entails taking all necessary measures to protect civilian targets from the threats of the Houthis", a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation said.

Yahya Saree, a Houthi spokesman, claimed responsibility for the attacks and said that they targeted Abha International Airport with four drones because of what they said was the kingdom using the site for military purposes. He also warned the attacks would continue.

The US on Wednesday condemned the Houthi attack on the airport, which coincides with Special Envoy to Yemen, Tim Lenderking’s first trip to the region, as part of efforts to find a diplomatic solution to the conflict.

"The Houthis meanwhile continually demonstrate a desire to prolong the war by attacking Saudi Arabia including endangering civilians," said Ned Price, a state department spokesperson. "We remain committed to improving support for our partner Saudi Arabia to defend itself against threats to its security.

"We again urge the Houthis to immediately stop these aggressive acts, halt their offensive in Marib and demonstrate a true commitment to constructively engage in peace negotiations,” he said.

The Saudi-led military alliance intervened in Yemen in 2015 after the Iran-backed Houthis ousted the internationally recognised government in a coup.

Heavy fighting between government forces and the Houthi rebels killed more than two dozen people in recent days in the central Marib province, Yemeni officials and tribal leaders said on Tuesday.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric also expressed concern over yesterday’s drone attack and the fighting in Marib. “The renewed fighting in that area is a real threat not only to the process, but also to the Yemeni civilians who live there, many of whom are already internally displaced, which makes their lives even more complicated and increases the suffering,” Mr Dujarric said.

In 2019, the Houthi rebels fired cruise missiles at the airport several times between June 19 and 29, wounding at least 47 and killing one.

The Houthis hold northern Yemen, from where they launch hundreds of missiles and drones towards Saudi cities every year.

The coalition in the past responded with air strikes on Houthi military sites.

NEWSLETTERS
MORE FROM THE NATIONAL