Crime & Justice

US condemns Houthi missile barrage targeting Saudi Arabia

By Al-Mashareq and AFP

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An employee at the Saudi Aramco oil facility, walks near a damaged silo at the plant in Jeddah on November 24. Yemen's Houthis launched a missile attack on the facility the day before, triggering an explosion and a fire in a fuel tank. [Fayez Nureldine/AFP]

RIYADH -- Two children were hurt and 14 homes were damaged as Saudi forces intercepted ballistic missiles fired across the border, scattering debris over the eastern city of Dammam, officials said Sunday (September 5).

The attack, which took place on Saturday, was the latest in a series by the Iran-backed Houthis.

"Saudi Air Defence has intercepted and destroyed three ballistic missiles and three bomb-laden drones launched by the Iran-backed Houthi militia," spokesperson Brig. Gen. Turki al-Maliki said in a statement, describing the attack as "brutal, irresponsible behaviour" by the Houthis.

A spokesperson at the Defence Ministry said on Sunday that two children were wounded and 14 homes damaged after debris from the interception scattered across Dammam. It was not clear how serious the reported injuries were.

The US State Department condemned the attack, saying in a statement it was "completely unacceptable".

"These attacks threaten the lives of the Kingdom's residents, including more than 70,000 US citizens," the statement said.

"We once again urge the Houthis to agree to a comprehensive ceasefire immediately and to stop these cross-border attacks and attacks inside of Yemen, particularly their offensive on Marib, which is exacerbating the humanitarian crisis and prolonging the conflict," it said.

"The Houthis must begin working toward a peaceful, diplomatic solution under UN auspices to end this conflict."

Houthis: 'Aramco targeted'

The ballistic missiles were targeting civilians in the Eastern province -- where Dammam is located -- and the southern cities of Najran and Jazan, said Saudi authorities.

But Houthi spokesman Yahya Saree claimed in a video statement that the missile and drone attacks targeted "vital installations", including military bases and facilities of Saudi oil giant Aramco.

A Saudi official told AFP that the Houthi claims were "baseless". No immediate comment was available from Aramco.

The Saudi-led coalition fighting Houthis in Yemen told state-run television it would take "strict measures" to protect civilians.

In August, the Houthis escalated cross-border operations using drones and missiles. Saturday's interception comes four days after a drone hit Abha International Airport in the south, wounding eight people and damaging a civilian plane.

Yemen's grinding conflict has claimed tens of thousands of lives and displaced millions, resulting in what the United Nations (UN) calls the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

Numerous attacks on Aramco

The failed bombardment comes after a series of Houthi attacks on Aramco.

On April 14 and 15, Saudi air defence intercepted five ballistic missiles and four drones in the oil refinery town of Jazan, home to an Aramco facility.

The Houthis claimed two missile strikes on a Saudi Aramco plant in Jeddah, one on March 4 and an earlier one on November 24, and a March 7 attack on Aramco facilities in Dhahran.

In a June 2020 report, the UN Panel of Experts confirmed that cruise missiles fired from Yemen that were used in a 2019 attack on Saudi Aramco facilities were of Iranian origin.

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