Houthi missile strike hits Saudi airport, injuring 26

Erika Holt
June 13, 2019

At least 26 civilians were injured on Wednesday in a missile attack by Yemen's rebel Houthi movement on an airport in south-western Saudi Arabia, the Saudi-led coalition fighting the rebels said.

"The Houthis claimed through its media full responsibility for the attack, which constitutes a clear recognition for targeting civilians and civilian objects that are subject to special protection under global humanitarian law, thus could amount to a war crime of targeting civilians and civilian objects in a systematic manner", he said.

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

Maliki said the attack had resulted in the injury of 26 civilians, including three women (a Yemeni, an Indian and a Saudi) and two Saudi children.

Accusing Iran of arming the rebels, they said the attack "proves this terrorist militia's acquisition of new special weapons".

Debris is seen at Saudi Arabia's Abha airport after it was attacked by Yemen's Houthi group in Abha, Saudi Arabia June 12, 2019.

Meanwhile, the Iran-backed Houthi militia has claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it used a cruise missile.

The coalition would "take urgent and timely measures to deter this terrorist militia, and to ensure the protection of civilians and civilian objects", he added.

Rouhani for his part reiterated a warning that Iran would offer a "crushing" response if attacked by the US.

Those who struck the deal at the time described it as a building block toward further negotiations with Iran, whose Islamic government has had a tense relationship with America since the 1979 takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and subsequent hostage crisis.

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The rebels' Al-Masirah satellite news channel said the missile hit its intended target, halting air traffic at the airport in the town of Abha in the kingdom's southwest, some 165 kilometers (100 miles) from the Saudi-Yemen border.

Saudi Arabia has been at war against the Iranian-allied Houthis in Yemen since 2015.

The coalition spokesman did not immediately respond when asked if the projectile had been intercepted by the kingdom's Patriot missiles before hitting the airport.

Saudi Arabia and its allies have blamed Iran for supplying ballistic missiles and drones to the Houthis.

Thousands of passengers pass through Abha airport every day.

The uptick in violence comes as a UN-led peace push falters despite the rebels' unilateral withdrawal from the lifeline Red Sea port of Hodeida last month.

The UAE, Bahrain and Kuwait also condemned the act.

An air strike by the Saudi-led coalition that killed dozens of people in Yemen last August was branded an apparent war crime by Human Rights Watch.

The escalation in violence could threaten a fragile United Nations -led peace initiative in Yemen's main port city of Hodeidah, which handles the bulk of the impoverished country's commercial and aid imports and is a lifeline for millions of Yemenis.

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