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Houthi militias attack Saudi airport in Abha with drones, setting a civilian airliner on fire

The authorities have not reported any casualties in what is the third attack attributed to Yemeni forces since last Friday
Atalayar_Aeropuerto internacional de Abha,

AP/AMR NABIL  -   Yemen's Houthi rebels attacked Abha International Airport in southwestern Saudi Arabia on 10 February 2021

Abha airport in southern Saudi Arabia has been hit by an attack by Yemeni Houthi rebel forces. The offensive was carried out using drones and, according to Al-Ekhnariya public television, no casualties have been reported. The Houthi armed forces were quick to claim responsibility for the attack and celebrate its success through their spokesman, Yahya Sarea, on his Telegraph channel. He justified the action as a response to the coalition's "escalation of aggression" and accused the Saudi government of "ignoring" his "previous and repeated warnings about the use of civilian airports for military purposes".  

Turki al-Maliki, leader of the Royal Saudi Air Force and spokesman for the Arab Coalition to Support Legitimacy in Yemen, said in a statement distributed by the state news agency SPA that "a fire was brought under control on a civilian aircraft at Abha international airport as a result of an attack by the Houthi militia". This was not the only offensive by the Yemeni side as, in addition to this one, they had managed to intercept and destroy two drones loaded with explosives launched by the Houthi terrorist militia.

Al-Maliki has not officially addressed the possibility of victims involved or whether there were any people inside the plane when it was set on fire by Houthi drones. The coalition spokesman himself spoke of the significance of this third attack in less than a week and that it was "a war crime and endangers the lives of civilians", adding that they must take appropriate measures to protect both their territory and their people and that they would "punish the militia terrorists in accordance with international humanitarian law". 

Atalayar_Mapa de Arabia Saudí localizando Abha
AFP/AFP - Map of Saudi Arabia locating Abha

Wednesday's attack was the third Houthi attack since Sunday, although neither of the other two caused any damage, according to official sources. The Saudi-led coalition of Arab countries intervened in the conflict in Yemen in 2015 to support the internationally recognised government led by Abd Rabbuh Mansour al-Hadi after he was ousted by rebel troops from the country's capital, Sanaa. Since then, drone strikes have been a constant for the Houthis, with last Sunday's attack being the first after US President Joe Biden's announcement to withdraw support for the Arab coalition in Yemeni territory. This decision was made in parallel to the decision to remove the Houthis from the list of terrorist groups. The latter seems to be the trigger for the new wave of attacks by Yemeni forces against Saudi Arabia and Riyadh-backed forces in Yemen. 

Abha airport, located about 15 kilometres from a Saudi base and 100 kilometres from the Yemeni border, has been targeted by Houthi rebels for the past three years. However, this civilian airport had not been attacked since September 2020. 

The recent escalation of hostilities has generated great concern not only in the Middle East, but throughout international society. It is feared that the already disastrous situation in Yemen will continue to worsen and increase the number of victims, which, according to the UN, exceeds 233,000 people, making this conflict the largest humanitarian crisis in the world, and the worst since the creation of the United Nations. It is no longer just the violence across the country. It is estimated that more than 80% of the population - some 24 million people - are in need of humanitarian aid that they are not receiving.