Arab coalition strikes Yemen Houthis after oil attacks

The Saudi-led coalition said it launched a military operation against the Iran-backed Houthis (Ansarallah) on Thursday (September 19th) in its first known strike since an attack on the kingdom's oil industry that was blamed on Iran, AFP reported.

The operation in the north of the country comes after strikes on two Saudi oil facilities last weekend knocked out half the kingdom's production, sending regional tensions soaring.

The coalition said its operation destroyed four sites north of the port city of al-Hodeidah that were used by the Houthis to assemble remote-controlled boats and sea mines, according to a statement released by the Saudi Press Agency.

It described the sites as a threat to maritime security in the crucial shipping lane of Bab al-Mandeb and the southern Red Sea.

Hours before announcing the operation, which strains an already fragile UN-brokered ceasefire in al-Hodeidah, the Arab coalition said it intercepted a "remote-controlled, booby-trapped boat" that the Houthis aimed to use for a "terrorist act in the south of the Red Sea".

The coalition said the boat was destroyed in the operation but it did not specify the target.

The Houthis claimed responsibility for last weekend's attacks on Abqaiq –- the world's largest oil processing facility –- and the Khurais oil field in eastern Saudi Arabia.

But both Washington and Riyadh have ruled that out, saying the operation was beyond the militia's capabilities, and pinned the blame on Iran.

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