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  • US says committed to supporting Saudi Arabia defend itself from Houthi attacks

US says committed to supporting Saudi Arabia defend itself from Houthi attacks

Saudi air defenses thwarted a Houthi attack on Abha airport that involved a booby-trapped drone on Thursday. (File/AFP)
Saudi air defenses thwarted a Houthi attack on Abha airport that involved a booby-trapped drone on Thursday. (File/AFP)
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11 Feb 2022 12:02:36 GMT9
11 Feb 2022 12:02:36 GMT9
  • “America will have the backs of our friends in the region”: US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan
  • “I wish the injured a speedy recovery, and I call on the Houthis to end the violence”: UK ambassador to Riyadh

Saeed Al-Batati

AL-MUKALLA: The US on Thursday said it is committed to supporting Saudi Arabia in the defense of its people and territory after a Houthi attack on the Kingdom’s Abha airport, in which 12 people were injured.

President Joe Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said the “United States strongly condemns today’s terrorist attack.”

Noting that Houthi rebels had claimed responsibility for the drone, Sullivan said Washington will “work with our Saudi and international partners to hold them accountable.”

America will have the backs of our friends in the region,” he added.

The US State Department accused the Houthis of pursuing “a dangerous pattern of increasingly obstructive and aggressive actions against Yemenis, Yemen’s neighbors, and the international community.”

“Repeated attacks of the last several weeks have harmed civilians and civilian infrastructure and undermine international efforts for a peaceful solution to the Yemen conflict and threaten the more than 70,000 U.S. citizens living in Saudi Arabia,”  State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.

He noted that President Biden, in  a call to King Salman on Wednesday, reiterated that his country’s “is firmly committed to supporting the defense of Saudi Arabia.”

“The United States, along with the international community, continues to urge de-escalation of the conflict.  The parties should come to the negotiating table to work together and support the new, more inclusive UN-led peace process,” the spokesman added.

The Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen said Saudi air defenses thwarted a cross-border attack at 12:05 p.m. that involved a booby-trapped drone launched by the Iran-backed Houthi militia in a deliberate attempt to target civilians at the airport.

Shrapnel rained down when the drone was intercepted and fell inside the airport grounds, coalition spokesman Brig. Gen. Turki Al-Maliki said, and part of a glass facade was damaged. Two Saudi citizens, four Bangladeshis, three Nepalese, an Indian, a Filipino, and a Sri Lankan were injured.

Al-Maliki said the attack on the airport, civilian travelers and workers constituted a war crime.

The UN also condemned the attack on Abha airport.

“We condemn this and all attacks that target civilian infrastructure,” the spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Stephane Dujarric, said.

The British ambassador to Saudi Arabia Neil Crompton also “strongly condemned” the attack.

“I wish the injured a speedy recovery, and I call on the Houthis to end the violence,” the diplomat said.

The UAE called the Houthi attack “a cowardly terrorist act and a war crime that requires a deterrent response.”

It called on the international community to support measures taken by the coalition to stop the Houthis targeting civilian objects and deter them from threatening countries in the region.

Earlier on Wednesday, King Salman received a call from US President Joe Biden, during which tte two leaders stressed the need to strengthen cooperation and achieve stability in the region. The continuing attacks by the Houthi militia against civilians in the Kingdom were also on the agenda.

The king praised the US commitment to supporting the Kingdom in the defense of its land and citizens. He also said that Saudi Arabia supports Washington’s efforts to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

In another development in Yemen, at least 200 Houthis were reportedly killed in the past 24 hours during consecutive failed attacks to break a siege by Yemeni government troops on pockets of rebel fighters inside the city of Haradh.

A Yemeni military official told Arab News on Thursday that the militia had mounted many attacks on troops outside the city, which is in the northern province of Hajjah, in an attempt to free hundreds of its fighters.

“The Houthis are aggressively attacking Haradh to free senior military leaders and foreign experts and fighters besieged in the city,” said the official, who asked not to be named.

Backed by coalition air support, government troops on Feb. 4 took control of a strategic mountain range on the eastern edges of Ha-adh and later announced they had surrounded Houthi fighters.

The government troops pushed into the city when Houthis refused to surrender, triggering heavy fighting that left dozens of the rebels dead. The Houthis planted landmines and booby traps to obstruct the advancing forces.

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