A Saudi Arabian-led coalition fighting Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen unleashed a barrage of airstrikes on the capital and a strategic Red Sea city, officials said yesterday.
At least seven people were killed.
The overnight airstrikes on Sana’a and Hodeida — which are held by the Houthis — came a day after the rebels attacked an oil depot in the Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah, their highest-profile assault yet on the kingdom.
Brigadier General Turki al-Malki, a spokesman for the coalition, said that its strikes targeted “sources of threat” to Saudi Arabia, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
The coalition intercepted and destroyed two explosives-laden drones early yesterday, al-Malki said.
The drones were launched from Houthi-held civilian oil facilities in Hodeida, he said, adding that civilians should stay away from oil facilities in the city.
Footage circulated online showed flames and plumes of smoke over Sana’a and Hodeida.
Houthi officials said that the coalition airstrikes hit a power plant, a fuel supply station and the state-run social insurance office in the capital.
A Houthi media office said that an airstrike hit houses for guards of the social insurance office, killing at least seven people and wounding three others, including women and children.
The office shared images it said showed the aftermath of the airstrike.
It showed wreckage in the courtyard of a social insurance office with the shattered windows of a nearby multiple-story building.
In Hodeida, the Houthi media office said the coalition hit oil facilities in contravention of a 2018 ceasefire deal that ended months of fighting in Hodeida, which handles about 70 percent of Yemen’s commercial and humanitarian imports.
The strikes also hit the nearby Port Salif, also on the Red Sea.
The Houthis’ attack of Friday came ahead of a Formula One race in the kingdom today, raising concerns about Saudi Arabia’s ability to defend itself against the Iranian-backed rebels.
Friday’s attack targeted the same fuel depot that the Houthis had attacked in recent days — the North Jeddah Bulk Plant, which is southeast of the city’s international airport.
Al-Malki said that a fire at the oil facility in Jeddah damaged two tanks and was put out without injuries.
“This hostile escalation targets oil facilities and aims to undermine energy security and the backbone of global economy,” al-Malki said. “These hostile attacks had no impact or repercussions in any way, shape or form on public life in Jeddah.”
Formula One organizers said that its race in Saudi Arabia would go ahead as scheduled.
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