Houthi rebels in Yemen upped the ante on Wednesday, firing ballistic missiles over Riyadh, according to the Houthis, in retaliation for air raids by a Saudi-led coalition.
The Royal Saudi Air Defense intercepted at least one ballistic missile over Riyadh on Wednesday. Multiple blasts were heard, and plumes of smoke could be seen from the capital.
Yemen’s rebel Houthi movement launched earlier on Wednesday drone strikes on a Saudi Aramco facility and on an airport in Saudi Arabia, Houthi-owned Al-Masirah TV channel reported on Wednesday.
Aramco says that its plants are operating normally and safely, Reuters reports.
The Iran-aligned Yemeni rebels, who have been fighting a Saudi-led Arab coalition in Yemen since 2015, said that they targeted on Wednesday morning local time the Abha airport in Asir and Aramco in Jazan, according to the Houthis’ Al-Masirah outlet.
Saudi Aramco has a 400,000-bpd refinery in Jazan in the country’s southwest. The refinery is part of a project for a Jazan Economic City that will also contain a terminal.
According to the Houthis, the Abha airport has suspended flights following the drone air strike.
Houthi rebels have fired or claimed to have fired many missiles on Saudi Arabia since 2015, but they have caused little damage, and many of those missiles have been intercepted by the Saudi military.
More recently, the Houthi movement claimed to have fired a ballistic missile targeting Saudi Aramco in the southern Saudi province of Najran three weeks ago. Aramco responded to the reports by saying that all oil and gas facilities, plants, and refineries in Saudi Arabia were operating normally.
Earlier this month, a Saudi oil tanker was targeted by the Houthi movement off Yemen’s port of Hodeidah, sustaining minor damages and completing its course north.
Yemen lies along one of the main global oil chokepoints in the Red Sea. Millions of barrels of crude oil pass Yemeni shores from the Suez Canal en route to Europe every day.
According to weapons monitor Conflict Armament Research (CAR), quoted by Reuters, CAR has evidence that the Qasif-1 drone used in today’s strike was made in Iran, “in contrast to Houthi statements”. Saudi Arabia and the coalition it leads in Yemen accuse the Houthi movement of being sponsored and backed by Iran, while Tehran and the rebels deny those charges.
Oil prices are trading up on the news, with Brent topping $72 at 11:52am EST.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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