Twenty-six people were wounded Wednesday when Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen fired a cruise missile at Abha International Airport in southern Saudi Arabia. The airport is located 110km (70 miles) from the Saudi-Yemeni border.
No fatalities were reported in the attack, but the number of civilians wounded was the largest to date in any Houthi assault inside the kingdom. Three women and two children were among the victims, and eight people were taken to hospital, while 18 sustained minor injuries.
Houthi military spokesman Brigadier General Yahai Sare’e said: “The latest American systems could not intercept the missile. This strike spread panic and fear among enemies and caused a great confusion in their side.” He vowed that the rebels would target every airport in Saudi Arabia and that the coming days would reveal “big surprises.”
Houthi-controlled Al-Masirah TV reported that it was the second time the Iranian-backed terrorist group had fired a cruise missile. The first attack targeted a nuclear power plant under construction in the United Arab Emirates in 2017.
The Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, which supports the internationally-recognized government based in Aden, claimed the missile directed at the airport had been supplied to the Houthis by Iran.
A spokesperson for the coalition said in a statement: “This attack proves this terrorist militia’s acquisition of new special weapons; the continuation of the Iranian regime’s support and practice of cross-border terrorism.” He added that the attack on the civilian airport was a violation of international humanitarian law and might constitute a war crime.
Last month, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo charged that Iran is instructing the Houthi rebels to violate a fragile ceasefire agreement reached in December between the Tehran-sponsored terrorist group and the Yemeni government.
Pompeo explained that Iran’s control over the Houthis was also seen “with the missile system, the hardware, [and] the military capability” that they had acquired. “These are not Houthi indigenous weapons systems. They have been smuggled into Yemen from Iran.”
[Photo: Al Jazeera English / YoutTube]