Anwar Gargash: UAE strongly condemns Houthi attack on Abha Airport in Saudi Arabia

The Iran-backed rebels claimed responsibility for missile attack that injured 26

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The UAE strongly condemns a Houthi attack on Abha Airport in Saudi Arabia, which wounded 26 people on Wednesday, Dr Anwar Gargash said.

The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs spoke hours after a missile was fired into Saudi Arabia by the Iran-backed rebels in Yemen.

It hit a busy commuter airport in what the Arab Coalition in Yemen has called a war crime.

Coalition spokesman Col Turki Al Malki said a projectile, of a type yet to be determined, fell on the airport’s arrival hall, which is used by thousands of civilians every day.

Col Al Malki said the coalition would hold the rebels responsible. The airport is about 200 kilometres north of the Saudi border with Yemen, in the kingdom’s south-west.

“The attack on the airport proves that the rebels have sophisticated weapons and that the Iranian regime continues to support cross-border terrorism,” Col Al Malki said.

The attack was carried out at 2am. Of those wounded, eight have been admitted to hospital and 18 were treated for minor injuries. They are of different nationalities and at least three are women.

Saudi Arabia’s civil aviation authority said on Wednesday afternoon that air traffic had returned to normal at the airport.

Flights from Abha connect to Dubai and Sharjah in the UAE, and other locations in the Middle East.

Houthi-run Al Masirah TV announced the attack and claimed the rebels had hit the airport with a cruise missile.

Saudi Arabia’s military and security forces were trying to determine the type of rocket used, Col Al Malki said.

“The targeting of Abha Airport proves that the Houthis have obtained advanced weapons from Iran,” a coalition statement said.

Saudi Arabia's Abha Airport, which was hit by the Iran-backed Houthi rebels on Wednesday in a rocket attack that wounded at least 26 people. Google
Saudi Arabia's Abha Airport, which was hit by the Iran-backed Houthi rebels on Wednesday in a rocket attack that wounded at least 26 people. Google

Riyadh is leading the Arab Coalition, of which the UAE is a member, in support of the internationally recognised government in its continuing conflict with the Houthis.

The government of President Abdrabu Mansur Hadi condemned the attack.

"The aggression is part of a series of attacks and violations of international laws by the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels against civilians in Yemen and on neighbouring countries," Majid Fadhil, Yemen's deputy human rights minister, told The National.

“We must condemn these violations and hold the international community responsible for failing to support and help the government to battle the militias.”

Rana Ghanem, assistant secretary of Yemen’s Nasser organisation, said that any action aimed at civilians is considered a war crime.

“This direct targeting confirms that the Houthis do not want peace, nor do they care about the interests of the Yemeni people, and are dedicated to continuing the conflict,” Ms Ghanem said.

“Their actions are part of an Iranian project and it is the only side that is benefiting from this war.”

Hamza Al Kamaly, Yemen’s deputy minister of youth, said that the Houthis would not hesitate to use nuclear weapons if Iran were to provide them.

Bahrain and Kuwait joined the UAE in condemning the attack.

It marks a dangerous escalation in the region, Bahraini Foreign minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa said on Wednesday.

“What is required is a clear and strict international stance towards the Houthis and their Iranian backing,” Sheikh Khalid said.

The UAE said that the attack proved to be a "confirmation that the Houthi terrorists are seeking to undermine stability in the region”, the state news agency Wam reported.

The Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah, said: “The terrorist act on Abha airport targeted innocent civilians."

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri also condemned the attack: "This blatant attack on Saudi Arabia's vital civilian facilities confirms the continued malicious attempts to target the security and stability of the kingdom."

The US embassy in Saudi said on Twitter that it condemned "in the strongest possible terms the Houthi attack on innocent civilians at Abha Airport. We wish those injured a speedy recovery".

Last month the Houthis launched a drone attack on two Saudi oil-pumping stations and a pipeline. Riyadh accused Iran of ordering the attack.

The UK submitted a draft resolution to the UN Security Council on Monday condemning the oil stations attack.

“The attacks represent a threat to the kingdom’s national security, as well as posing as a threat to regional security,” the draft said.

The rebels have increased drone and missile attacks amid rising tension between Iran and the US.

On Monday, Saudi air defences intercepted two Houthi drones that were aimed at the southern city of Khamis Mushait, about 815km south-west of Riyadh and near the kingdom’s border with Yemen.

“The attack was part of the continuing attempts by Houthi terrorists to target civilians in Saudi Arabia,” Col Al Malki said in Riyadh on Monday evening.

In the past few weeks, rebels have also targeted an airport in the port city of Jizan and the city of Najran near the Yemen border.

War erupted in Yemen in 2014 after Houthi rebels drove the government from the capital, Sanaa, leading to the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.