Yemeni Houthi armed forces today purportedly struck facilities of Saudi oil giant Aramco in the southwestern part of Saudi Arabia as well as the airport of Abha in the kingdom, Iranian Fars News reports. The attacks—the second such reported incident in a week--according to Iranian media reports citing Yemeni sources, came in retaliation for Saudi air strikes targeting civilians in Yemen.
The attack that prompted the retaliatory move took place on Friday, when Saudi fighters, according to Iranian media, targeted residential areas in the district of Baqim, in the northwestern Sa’ada province. The attack resulted in 11 casualties and came after another one on Thursday, which again had a civilian target: a bazaar in the same district. Seven were killed in that attack, and 10 others were injured.
According to the Al Masirah website, which Fars News quotes, the damage to Aramco’s facilities in today’s attack has been considerable, but no specific details were offered, and Saudi Arabia has not confirmed the veracity of the reports.
The Yemeni attack comes just days after another one, launched by the Houthi rebel group, also targeting Aramco facilities. Neither of the attacks has been confirmed by Saudi sources or Aramco itself. After the Friday attack, Aramco officials told Bloomberg all its refineries were operating as usual.
State-controlled Saudi media, however, acknowledged a missile strike from Yemen on Friday, which caused a fire at a power relay facility in Narjan, southern Saudi Arabia, which was quickly put out. Related: Yemen’s Houthi Forces Claim Missile Hit On Saudi Aramco Oil Facilities
Yemen is the site of a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and Iranian media are the first to report on Houthi claims coming out of Yemen. Yemen’s geographical position is strategic because it sits on the narrow Bab al-Mandab strait connecting the Red Sea with the Gulf of Aden--a waterway for much of the oil shipments in the region.
In February 2015, the Houthi rebels forced President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to flee to Saudi Arabia. The Shi’ite Houthis are allied with Iran, Saudi Arabia’s regional archrival. The international community recognizes Hadi as Yemen’s legitimate leader.
Last week, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, accused Saudi forces of using cluster bombs against Yemeni civilians, which violates international laws, directly blaming the Saudi-led coalition for “a disproportionate amount” of the attacks against civilian targets.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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