DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Yemen’s Houthi rebels unleashed a barrage of drone and missile strikes on Saudi Arabia early Sunday that targeted a liquified natural gas plant, water desalination plant, oil facility and power station, Saudi state-run media reported.
The attacks did not cause casualties, the Saudi-led military coalition fighting in Yemen said, but damaged civilian vehicles and homes in the area. The salvo marked the latest escalation in Houthi cross-border attacks on Saudi Arabia as peace talks remain stalled and the conflict that has laid waste to much of Yemen since 2015 rages on.
Yehia Sarie, a spokesman for Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels said the group had launched “a wide and large military operation into the depth of Saudi Arabia,” without immediately elaborating.
The military coalition said it thwarted an attack on a liquified gas plant at a petrochemicals complex in the Red Sea port of Yanbu run by the Saudi Arabian Oil Co., better known as Aramco. It wasn’t immediately clear if the attack had inflicted any damage on the plant.
Other aerial strikes targeted a power station in the country’s southwest, a desalination facility in Al-Shaqeeq on the Red Sea coast, an Aramco terminal in the southern border town of Jizan and a gas station in the southern city of Khamis Mushait, the coalition said.
The extent of damage was unclear. The official Saudi Press Agency posted various photos of firetrucks dousing leaping flames with water hoses, as well as wrecked cars and craters in the ground allegedly left by the series of drone and ballistic missile strikes.
The barrage comes after the Saudi-based Gulf Cooperation Council invited Yemen’s warring sides for talks in Riyadh aimed at ending the war — an offer dismissed out of hand by the Houthis, who demanded that negotiations take place in a “neutral” country.
Peace talks have floundered since the Houthis have tried to capture oil-rich Marib, one of the last remaining strongholds of the Saudi-backed Yemeni government in the country’s north.
Yemen’s brutal war erupted in 2015, after the Iran-backed Shiite Houthis seized the country’s capital, Sanaa, and much of the north. Saudi Arabia, fearing an Iranian presence on its border, and other Arab states launched a devastating air campaign to oust the Houthis and restore the internationally recognized government.
The conflict has settled into a bloody stalemate, with Saudi Arabia and its allies struggling to turn the tide. Saudi-led coalition airstrikes have decimated infrastructure and struck civilian targets in Yemen like hospitals and wedding parties, drawing widespread international criticism.
The ongoing war has created one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world, with a recent U.N. report estimating that hundreds of thousands of people have died and millions have been displaced as a result of the conflict.
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