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Yemen's Huthis launch missile attack on Saudi Aramco site

·3-min read
Yemen's Iran-backed Huthi rebels say they have fired a Quds-2 type missile that struck a distribution facility of oil giant Aramco in the Saudi Red Sea port of Jeddah

Yemen's Huthi rebels launched a missile attack on a Saudi Aramco oil facility in the Red Sea city of Jeddah on Monday, triggering an explosion and a fire in a fuel tank, officials said.

The strike occurred the day after the kingdom hosted a virtual summit of G20 nations, and more than a year after the targeting of major Aramco sites that caused turmoil on global oil markets.

The Iran-backed Huthis said they launched a Quds-2 missile at the oil distribution facility, in retaliation for Saudi's role at the head of a military coalition that supports the government in Yemen's long conflict.

The rebels have since the start of last year stepped up attacks on neighbouring Saudi Arabia, mainly targeting southern provinces along their shared border. Jeddah however lies some 600 kilometres (370 miles) from the frontier.

"An explosion took place as a result of a terrorist attack by a projectile, causing a fire in a fuel tank at the petroleum products distribution terminal in the north of Jeddah," the Saudi energy ministry said in a statement.

Firefighting teams extinguished the blaze and there were no casualties, it said, adding that Aramco's fuel deliveries were not affected by this act of "terrorism and sabotage".

The Saudi-led military coalition said the Huthis were "implicated in this cowardly terrorist attack, which does not target the national capabilities of the kingdom, but rather targets the nerve of the global economy and its supplies as well as global energy security".

Yahya Sarie, spokesman for the Huthis' armed wing, said earlier that its "missile force" targeted a distribution station belonging to the energy giant.

"The Quds-2 type hit its target accurately and Saudi ambulances and firefighting vehicles rushed to the targeted location," he said.

- UN urges restraint -

The United Nations expressed concern over the attack on a civilian target, which it said violated international law.

It called on "all actors to exercise maximum restraint and to demonstrate a serious commitment to engage in the UN-facilitated political process and reach a negotiated political settlement to end the conflict and the suffering of the Yemeni people".

TankerTrackers, an oil shipping monitoring website, cited satellite photos from Planet Labs as showing that a fuel storage tank at the North Jeddah Bulk Plant was "struck and quickly extinguished".

Sarie warned foreign companies operating in Saudi Arabia "to avoid vital installations" which could be involved in ongoing operations.

Saudi Arabia has been targeted with dozens of ballistic missile and drone attacks since the start of last year, including a devastating strike on Aramco's facilities in the country's east which temporarily knocked out half the kingdom's crude output.

That strike was claimed by the Huthis, but the United States said it involved cruise missiles from Iran.

Yemen has been locked in conflict since the rebels took control of the capital Sanaa in 2014 and went on to seize much of the north.

The crisis escalated when a Saudi-led military coalition intervened to support the internationally recognised government in 2015.

Tens of thousands of people, mostly civilians, have been killed and millions displaced in what the United Nations has called the world's worst humanitarian disaster.

mah/sls/hkb