June 14, 2019 / 3:19 AM / 4 months ago

Yemen's Houthis, in tit-for-tat, launch fresh attacks against Saudi Abha airport

ADEN (Reuters) - Yemen’s Houthi group carried out new drone strikes on a Saudi airport on Friday after a series of air strikes by a Saudi-led coalition against the capital Sanaa, residents and both sides of Yemen’s war said.

The Iran-aligned group said it has launched several drone strikes against Abha regional airport in southern Saudi Arabia, the Houthi television channel reported, two days after it claimed responsibility for a missile attack against the same airport.

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

The Western-backed coalition, which had vowed to respond to Wednesday’s missile attack on Abha airport, said on Thursday it had destroyed Houthi military assets on the outskirts of the Houthi-held capital Sanaa.

A statement from the alliance said 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.

It was unclear if there were any casualties following Friday’s drone strikes. Wednesday’s missile attack had wounded 26 people, Saudi authorities said.

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

“The targets that were destroyed in Yemen include missile depots, weapons and manufacturing plants,” said a coalition statement carried on Saudi-owned Al Arabiya TV.

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.

Slideshow (6 Images)

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.

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.

The Yemen conflict is widely seen in the region as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The Houthis say they took up arms against corruption.

Reporting by Mohammed Ghobari in Aden and Mohammed El Sherif in Cairo, Lisa Barrington in Dubai, writing by Aziz El Yaakoubi; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Lisa Shumaker

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