Yemen’s Houthi rebels claim a ‘large-scale’ drone attack on Saudi oil facilities


Smoke billows from an Aramco oil facility in Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia, on Saturday, September 14, 2019.

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(CNN) — Yemen’s Houthi rebels have attacked Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities with drones, the Houthi-run Al-Masirah news agency said Saturday.

A Yemen armed forces spokesman was quoted by the agency as saying the Houthis successfully carried out a “large-scale” operation with 10 drones targeting Saudi Aramco oil facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais.

The Saudi interior ministry said the drone attacks caused fires at two facilities of the state-owned oil company. In a statement posted on Twitter, the ministry said the fires were under control and that authorities are still investigating the incident.

The Yemen armed forces spokesman said the operation was a “legitimate and natural” response to “the enemy’s aggression and blockade” of Yemen.

Saudi Arabia has been leading a military campaign to quash the Houthi rebels in Yemen since March 2015. The conflict is widely seen as a proxy war between the Saudis and Iran, which has been backing the Houthis.

“We promise the Saudi regime that the next operation will be wider and more painful if the blockade and aggression continues,” the spokesman added.

James Rogers, a drone and security expert and a visiting research fellow at the Department of International Security Studies at Yale University, said the United Nations has been investigating the drones, which have a range of 1,450 kilometers (900 miles). He said the range means that Houthi forces can target sites in Saudi Arabia from their stronghold in Yemen.

“It is quite an impressive, yet worrying, technological feat,” he said. “Long-range precision strikes are not easy to achieve and to cause the substantial fires in Abqaiq and Khurais highlights that this drone has a large explosive yield.”

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