Iran-backed Yemen rebels injure nine in strike on Saudi airport
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Iran-backed Yemen rebels injure nine in strike on Saudi airport

Houthi militants claim drone attack on Abha airport, which was hit twice in similar incidents last month

Illustrative: Tribesmen loyal to Houthi rebels chant slogans during a gathering aimed at mobilizing more fighters into battlefronts to fight pro-government forces, in Sana'a, Yemen, January 3, 2017. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)
Illustrative: Tribesmen loyal to Houthi rebels chant slogans during a gathering aimed at mobilizing more fighters into battlefronts to fight pro-government forces, in Sana'a, Yemen, January 3, 2017. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)

A Yemeni rebel attack on a civilian airport in southern Saudi Arabia wounded nine civilians Tuesday, the Riyadh-led coalition said, the latest in a series of strikes on the site.

“The terrorist attack on Abha airport… led to the injury of nine civilians, including eight Saudi citizens and one carrying an Indian passport,” the military coalition said in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency.

Earlier, the Iran-aligned Houthi rebels said they “launched a wide operation targeting warplanes at Abha international airport” with drones, according to their Al-Masira television channel.

The rebels in neighboring Yemen — who have faced persistent coalition bombing since March 2015 which has exacted a heavy civilian death toll — have stepped up missile and drone attacks across the border in recent weeks.

On June 12, a rebel missile attack on Abha airport wounded 26 civilians, drawing promises of “stern action” from the coalition.

A picture taken during a guided tour with the Saudi military on June 13, 2019 shows the damage on the roof of Abha airport in the popular mountain resort of the same name in the southwest of Saudi Arabia, one day after a Yemeni rebel missile attack on the civil airport wounded 26 civilians. (Fayez Nureldine / AFP)

And on June 23, another rebel attack on Abha airport killed a Syrian national and wounded 21 other civilians, according to the coalition.

The raids come amid heightened regional tensions after Washington — a key ally of Riyadh — accused Iran of shooting down a US drone over international waters and of carrying out attacks on oil tankers in the strategic Gulf of Oman.

Saudi Arabia has repeatedly accused Iran of supplying sophisticated weapons to Houthi rebels, a charge Tehran denies.

Following recent attacks, Saudi state media have reported an intensification of coalition air raids on rebel positions in the northern Yemeni province of Hajjah and the Houthi-held capital Sanaa.

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 the second city Aden.

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

The fighting has triggered what the United Nations described as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with millions of people displaced and in need of aid.

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