Yemen’s Houthis claim drone strikes on Saudi pipeline

Yemen’s Houthi rebels claimed targeting Saudi Arabia’s East-West pipeline near Riyadh with several armed drones on Tuesday. Saudi officials confirmed the attacks, but denied that any significant damage was caused to the pipeline.

Al Masirah, a Houthi-ran news site, reported that seven drones launched a coordinated bombing campaign against several targets near the Saudi capital. The news site specifically mentioned that Aramco, Saudi’s national petroleum company, was specifically targeted in the strikes.

Mohammad Abdul Salam, the official spokesman for Ansar Allah (the Houthi movement’s official name), tweeted that the bombings “came in the defense against continued aggression…and genocide against the people [of Yemen.]”

The Saudi Energy Minister, Khalid al Falih, confirmed that the strikes took place. The Saudi Press Agency quoted al Falih as saying that “two pump stations on the East-West pipeline were attacked by armed drones which caused a fire and minor damage to Pump Station No. 8.”

The use of armed drones against Saudi targets deep within the Kingdom represents both a significant increase in capabilities and the threat posed by the Iranian-supported rebel movement. However, this is not the first reported use of Houthi drones against Gulf targets.

Last summer, the Houthis claimed its drones targeted the Abu Dhabi airport in the United Arab Emirates. But UAE officials quickly denied this claim, refuting the Houthi statement that air traffic was greatly disrupted at the airport.

Much like with the movement’s ballistic missile program, Iran is widely suspected of providing significant support to the Houthi’s drone effort.

Caleb Weiss is an editor of FDD's Long War Journal and a senior analyst at the Bridgeway Foundation, where he focuses on the spread of the Islamic State in Central Africa.

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