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Drone Attack Injures 12 Civilians at Saudi Abha Airport

By: Ahmed Fathi

A drone strike on Saudi Arabia's Abha airport injured 12 civilians on Thursday, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen stated Saudi air defenses stopped a cross-border strike at 12:05 p.m. by an Iranian-backed Houthi drone targeting civilians at the airport.

When the drone was intercepted, shrapnel rained down and shattered a glass facade, according to coalition spokesman Brig. Gen. Turki Al-Maliki. There were also two Saudis, four Bangladeshis, three Nepalese and an Indian among the injured.

Al-Maliki called the attack on the airport, passengers, and personnel a war crime.

On Wednesday, King Salman had a phone call from US President Joe Biden, in which both leaders emphasized the need of regional cooperation and stability. The ongoing Houthi militia attacks on citizens in the Kingdom were also discussed.

The king thanked the US commitment to defending the Kingdom's land and people. He also stated Saudi Arabia backs Washington's efforts to stop Iran from getting nukes.

At least 200 Houthis were reportedly killed in the last 24 hours amid botched attacks by Yemeni government troops on pockets of rebel militants inside Haradh.

A Yemeni military officer told Arab News on Thursday that the militia had attacked forces outside of the city in an attempt to release hundreds of fighters.

To release key military officers and foreign experts, and fighters besieged in Haradh, the official added, asking not to be identified.

On Feb. 4, government troops grabbed control of a crucial mountain range east of Haradh, later claiming to have surrounded Houthi rebels. When the Houthis refused to surrender, the government troops marched into the city, killing hundreds of rebels. The Houthis set up landmines and booby traps to impede the advance.

The city is strategically located near the Saudi Arabian border and the busiest border crossing. Control of the city would allow the restoration of the crossing, which would provide fresh funding streams for the cash-strapped Yemeni government.

To aid bolster government troops fighting the Houthis in surrounding districts, Yemen's Army and coalition could send military equipment and fighters from Saudi Arabia.

The Al-Hejah mountain range, east of Haradh, was taken by Yemeni forces on Wednesday.

During the fighting near Haradh on Thursday, a Yemeni military spokesman said the Houthis used more advanced explosive-rigged unmanned aerial vehicles.

The drones were shot down on Thursday and Wednesday, he claimed. “Their shape, propeller count, and cargo differ from previous drones.”

A huge military operation to weaken the Houthis, who have been attacking the central city of Marib since early last year, pushed into a new district in Marib province.

A new front in the oil-rich province has opened up to push the Houthi away from Marib, according to officials.

The coalition redeployed hundreds of troops from the west coast to the interior regions late last year, allowing government troops to thwart Houthi attempts to take Marib city.

The thousands of landmines set by the Houthis in numerous areas killed and maimed 36 civilians in January, according to the Yemeni Landmine Monitor.

The Houthis used landmines to stop the government's Giant Brigade from attacking Shabwa and Marib. The majority of Houthi landmine casualties were displaced individuals.


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