SAUDI ARABIA (OBSERVATORY) – The Yemeni military alliance announced on Wednesday the destruction of two unmanned drones launched by the Houthi rebels in southern Saudi Arabia in an attempt to target an airport and a civilian facility and intercept three ballistic missiles in the kingdom.
The attacks are an escalation of the insurgency, especially as the Saudi-led coalition confirms that the two unmanned aircraft are able to enter the kingdom’s airspace and reach one area close to the target international airport before being shot down by airport air defenses.
The rebels, who Saudi Arabia accuses of receiving military support from Iran, say they launch what they call a “year of palestine excellence,” at a time when the coalition has threatened a “firm” response.
“The air defenses of Abha airport spotted an unidentified object on Wednesday morning heading towards the airport and destroying it,” said Colonel Turki al-Maliki, a spokesman for the forces supporting the legitimacy in Yemen, in a statement published by the official news agency.
He added that the attack caused the air traffic to stop at the airport for an unspecified period before resuming.
By inspecting the wreckage of the body by the coalition, it turned out to be “a hostile Hutha drone with Iranian characteristics and specifications that were trying to target the airport,” according to Colonel Maliki.
He also said another unmanned aerial vehicle was destroyed in Jazan airspace after it tried to target an unspecified civilian facility.
The Houthi rebels earlier announced targeting the airport and the headquarters of Aramco, the Saudi oil giant, in Jazan, two drones. However, a spokesman for the company told AFP that its facilities in the target area “operate normally.”
On Wednesday evening, the rebels announced a “massive operation with ballistic strikes on various areas of Saudi Arabia,” pointing to the targeting of the Ministry of Defense in Riyadh, the Aramco building, King Abdullah Economic City in Najran and Jizan to the south.
And heard the sound of explosions in the atmosphere of Riyadh, according to an AFP correspondent.
Colonel Al-Maliki said in a statement that three ballistic missiles were intercepted over Riyadh, Najran and Jizan.
– “Baleseti Year” –
Saudi Arabia began its military operations in Yemen in March 2015 in support of the internationally recognized authority and in the face of the Shi’ite Houthis who have taken control of the capital and other areas.
In recent months, the Houthis have stepped up rocket attacks on Saudi Arabia, including an attack in which they fired seven rockets into the kingdom on March 26, marking the third anniversary of the Saudi-led Arab military campaign in the country.
Saudi Arabia announced on March 26 that its air defenses had intercepted seven ballistic missiles fired from Yemen by the Houthi rebels in the direction of the capital Riyadh and other cities, noting that the shrapnel resulting from the destruction of these rockets in the air killed two people.
Saudi Arabia accuses Iran of supporting the rebels with arms and smuggling materials from which the missiles are manufactured into Yemen, which Tehran denies.
Maliki warned Wednesday after Wednesday’s attacks that the coalition would respond “firmly” to it.
The attacks came two days after Saleh al-Samad, head of the rebels’ political wing, said 2018 would be “a year of ballastia with distinction.”
The rebels said on their channel “Al-Masirah” that these attacks come “to inaugurate the Ballistic Year announced by the President of the compass days ago.”
“We are coming in stronger and more aggressive stages,” the rebels said in a statement, pointing out that directing the aircraft called “Kassaf” to target Abha airport “is a strategic step comparable to ballistic strikes.”
“Today we are stronger than ever.”
The conflict in Yemen since the Saudi intervention at the head of the military alliance has killed about ten thousand people and injured about 53 thousand in light of a humanitarian crisis that the United Nations is among the worst in the world now.