Saudi Arabia intercepts Houthi drones launched at southern airports

Yemen's Houthi rebels are using terror tactics against civilians, Arab Coalition says

Spokesman of the Saudi-led military coalition Colonel Turki Al-Maliki talks during an interview with AFP in the capital Riyadh, on May 21, 2019. Coalition spokesman Colonel Turki al-Maliki said two missiles were shot down between Jeddah and Taiz districts of Mecca province but did not elaborate on the suspected target or who fired them. / AFP / FAYEZ NURELDINE
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Saudi Arabia's air force on Monday intercepted drones launched at  the kingdom's civilian airports by Yemen's Houthi rebels.

The unmanned aerial vehicles were destroyed before they could reach their targets, said Col Turki Al Malki, spokesman for the Arab Coalition fighting in Yemen to support of the internationally recognised government of President Abdrabu Mansur Hadi.

“Houthi militias are simultaneously using terrorist tactics, especially after launching an attack on a military base in Aden,” Col Al Malki said, in a statement reported by the Saudi Press Agency.

The Saudi official called the latest attacks "war crimes" as they targeted civilians.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE are leading the Arab Coalition that intervened in Yemen in 2015 to restore the internationally recognised government, which was pushed out of the capital Sanaa after the Houthis seized it in late 2014.

The coalition will continue to take “strict measures against the rebels to minimise their capabilities and address the terrorist acts," Col Al Malki said.

He did not say which areas the drones was targeting.

The Houthis' Al Masirah television station said the rebel drones targeted civilian airports in the southern cities of Abha, Najran  and King Khaled airbase in Khamis Mushait.

All three locations are in south-west Saudi Arabia, near the border with Yemen. Several Saudi provinces near the border have come under attack in recent weeks.

Monday’s incident is just the latest in dozens of such attacks launched against the kingdom in recent months against the backdrop of heightened tensions between Iran and the West.

Last Thursday, the rebels claimed responsibility for an attack on a military parade in the government-held port city of Aden, killing at least 30 police officers.

The escalation threatens a UN-backed deal for a ceasefire and troop withdrawal in the vital port city of Hodeidah.

Hodeidah became a flashpoint when the coalition attempted to re-take it from the Houthis.

The port city is the rebels' main supply line and a lifeline for million of Yemenis.