Saudi forces on Saturday intercepted a


Yemeni rebel drone targeting the southern city of Abha, a Riyadh-led military
coalition said, the latest in a series of assaults this week.

The unmanned drone was downed with no casualties or damage reported in a
coalition statement released by the official Saudi Press Agency.

The Iran-aligned Huthi rebels declared drone attacks on the airports of
Abha and southern Jizan city, with a spokesman on rebel-run Al-Masirah TV
promising “painful days” for the Saudi regime in response to its bombing
campaign in Yemen.

The rebels claimed their drones targeted a fuel station at Abha airport and
control rooms for unmanned aerial vehicles at Jizan airport.

The rebels, who have faced persistent coalition bombing since March 2015
that has exacted a heavy civilian death toll, have stepped up missile and
drone attacks across the border in recent weeks and warned that coalition
airports were valid targets.

On Wednesday, a rebel missile attack on Abha airport left 26 civilians
wounded, drawing promises of “stern action” from the coalition.

And on Friday, the coalition said five Huthi drones targeted Abha airport
and the nearby city of Khamis Mushait, which houses a major airbase used as a
launchpad for the coalition’s bombing campaign.

Human Rights Watch denounced Wednesday’s strike as an apparent “war crime”,
urging the Huthis to immediately stop all attacks on civilian infrastructure
in Saudi Arabia.

The attacks come amid spiralling regional tensions with Iran, which Saudi
Arabia has repeatedly accused of arming the rebels with sophisticated
weapons. Tehran denies the charge.

Following recent rebel attacks, Saudi state media has reported the
coalition was intensifying its air raids on rebel positions in the northern
Yemeni province of Hajjah.

The coalition also launched air strikes on the rebel-held capital Sanaa,
Saudi state television reported on Saturday.

The coalition intervened in support of the Yemeni government in 2015 when
President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi fled into Saudi exile as the rebels closed
in on his last remaining territory in and around second city Aden.

Since then, the conflict has killed tens of thousands of people, many of
them civilians, relief agencies say.

It has triggered what the UN describes as the world’s worst humanitarian
crisis, with more than 24 million Yemenis — more than two-thirds of the
population — in need of aid.

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