Saudi Arabia’s Abha Airport was struck by a rebel Houthi missile from Yemen on Wednesday wounding 26 people, the Saudi military says.
The missile hit the airport’s arrivals hall, with three women and two children among those wounded. Abha is located in western Saudi Arabia and its airport services flights not only within Saudi Arabia but also to Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. The missile was launched by the Houthi militias in Yemen, who are backed by Iran.
“The latest U.S. systems could not intercept the missile. This strike spread panic and fear among enemies and caused a great confusion on their side,” Houthi rebel spokesman Brigadier-General Yahia Sari said on the Houthi-run Masirah TV. The Houthis claimed they use a cruise missile to target the airport.
“The Command of the Joint Forces of the Coalition will take urgent and timely measures to deter these Iranian-backed militias,” the Saudi Foreign Ministry tweeted. Saudi Arabia currently leads a military coalition to weed out the Houthi rebels in Yemen.
Saudi Arabia’s regional allies made statements in support of the kingdom. Egypt called on the Houthis to stop their attacks on Saudi Arabia, while Bahrain tweeted it “strong condemns” the attack.
The strike come as the U.S. and Iran face unprecedented tension. U.S. President Donald Trump led the United States to leave the Iranian nuclear deal and reinstated sanctions onto Iran.
Iran could be applying pressure to the groups it backs, such as the Houthi rebels in Yemen, to strike targets of U.S. allies, such as an airport in Saudi Arabia.
Last month the Houthi group claimed responsibility for a drone attack on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia. The Trump administration has considered naming the Houthi rebels as a terrorist group.
The attacks come as Japanese President Shinzo Abe has landed in Tehran to meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Iranian hardliners are critical of Abe’s relationship with the U.S. and President Donald Trump.
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