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April 11, 2018 10:51 am

Yemen’s Houthis Say Launched Drone Attack on Saudi Aramco Facility

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A photo distributed by the Houthi Military Media Unit shows the launch by Houthi forces of a ballistic missile aimed at Saudi Arabia on March 25, 2018. Photo: Houthi Military Media Unit / Handout via Reuters.

Yemen’s armed Houthi movement said on Wednesday it had launched a drone strike on a facility belonging to oil giant Saudi Aramco in southern Saudi Arabia — though the company said its facilities there were operating “normally and safely.”

The Houthis’ Al-Masirah TV channel did not say when the attack took place or give details of any damage.

“The air force announced the execution of air strikes with the Qasef-1 aircraft on Aramco in Jizan (province),” the channel said on its Twitter account, referring to a drone the Houthis unveiled last year.

Saudi Aramco is building a 400,000-barrel-per-day refinery in Jizan, part of a new economic city on the Red Sea. The refinery is expected to become fully operational in 2019.

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Al-Masirah said the Houthis had also launched an attack with the same model of drone on the airport of Abha in neighboring Asir province.

Saudi Arabia and a coalition of mostly Gulf Arab states intervened in Yemen’s civil war in 2015 to try and push back the Houthis after the movement drove the internationally recognized government into Saudi exile.

The coalition has launched thousands of air strikes which have hit schools, markets and hospitals, killing hundreds of people — though it says it does not target civilians.

The Houthis have stepped up ballistic missile attacks on the kingdom in what it says is retaliation for the air raids.

They have frequently claimed attacks, including on Aramco facilities, that Saudi Arabia and its main ally the United Arab Emirates have either said did not happen or were intercepted.

The group unveiled what it said was a series of drones, including the Qasef-1, at a ceremony last year.

The arms monitor Conflict Armament Research (CAR) said it had evidence showing the Qasef-1 and other Houthi kit was made in Iran and was not of indigenous design and construction “in contrast to Houthi statements.”

The coalition accuses the Houthis of being armed and supported by Iran — charges the group and Tehran deny.

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