Riyadh says country’s air defences intercept and destroy a drone as Houthis say attack hit target with ‘high accuracy’.
Houthi rebels said they fired a missile at an oil facility owned by Saudi Aramco in the Red Sea city of Jeddah – the latest in a series of cross-border missile and drone strikes the Yemeni group has claimed against the kingdom.
There was no immediate confirmation of Thursday’s attack by the oil giant or the kingdom’s authorities.
Houthi spokesman Yahya Saree on Twitter claimed the rebels hit an Aramco facility in Jeddah with a Quds-2 missile at dawn on Thursday in retaliation for a six-year military campaign led by Saudi Arabia in Yemen.
He posted a satellite image online that matched Aramco’s North Jeddah Bulk Plant, where oil products are stored in tanks. The rebels claimed they hit the same facility last November, an attack the Saudi-led coalition later admitted had sparked a fire at the plant.
Saudi Aramco, whose oil production and export facilities are mostly in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province, more than 1,000km across the country from Jeddah, did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.
The Iran-aligned rebels have struck Aramco facilities in the past, underscoring the vulnerability of Saudi Arabia’s expensive oil infrastructure.
القوة الصاروخية تتمكن بفضل الله من إستهداف شركة أرامكو السعودية في جده فجر اليوم بصاروخ مجنح نوع قدس2 وكانت الإصابة دقيقة بفضل الله
يأتي هذا الاستهداف في اطار الرد الطبيعي والمشروع على استمرار الحصار الغاشم والعدوان على شعبنا العزيز pic.twitter.com/oTiL0xk2v6
— العميد يحيى سريع (@army21ye) March 4, 2021
Translation: The missile has targeted Saudi Aramco in Jeddah at dawn with a Quds-2 cruise missile, and the hit was accurate thanks to God. This targeting comes within the framework of the natural and legitimate response to the continuation of the brutal siege and aggression against our dear people.
The plant, which serves as a temporary storage facility for gasoline, diesel and other petrochemicals before distribution, sits just southeast of Jeddah’s King Abdulaziz International Airport, a major airfield that handles Muslim pilgrims heading to Mecca.
Flights coming into the airport diverted or otherwise flew in circles early on Thursday morning without explanation, according to tracking data from website FlightRadar24.com.
The Iran-aligned movement, which has been battling a Saudi-Emirati led military coalition for six years, has recently stepped up cross-border attacks on Saudi cities, mostly targeting southern Saudi Arabia. The coalition says it has intercepted most attacks.
On Thursday, the coalition said it had destroyed a ballistic missile fired towards Jazan in the south of the kingdom by Houthi forces, in a statement carried by Saudi state media outlets.
“The joint coalition forces were able, Thursday morning, to intercept and destroy an unmanned explosive device launched by the Iranian-backed Houthi militia,” said the coalition spokesman, Colonel Turki Al-Maliki, adding that the aircraft was “deliberately launched to target civilian objects and civilians themselves.”
The coalition intervened in Yemen in March 2015 after the Houthis overthrew the internationally-recognised government led by President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
The conflict is widely seen in the region as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The Houthis deny being puppets of Tehran and say they are fighting a corrupt system.
The rebels’ latest claim comes after the United States on Tuesday imposed sanctions on two Houthi commanders, blaming them for civilian deaths and denouncing their ties with Iran.