RIYADH: Saudi air defences intercepted Yemeni rebel drones targeting civilian airports on Monday, a Riyadh-led military coalition said, as the rebels ramp up cross-border attacks.
The coalition, in a statement published on Saudi state media, said the strikes were “simultaneous” but did not specify the targets or number of drones intercepted.
The Iran-aligned Huthi rebels’ Al-Masirah television earlier said their drones targeted civilian airports in the southern cities of Abha and Najran as well as King Khaled airbase in Khamis Mushait.
The strikes come just days after the rebels carried out a deadly attack on a security training camp near Yemen’s government-held second city Aden.
The rebels said they launched a drone and a ballistic missile at the camp.
The Huthi rebels — who have faced persistent coalition bombing since March 2015 which has exacted a heavy civilian death toll — have stepped up missile and drone attacks across the border in recent weeks.
Nine civilians were wounded in a July 3 Huthi attack on Abha airport, the coalition said.
A June 12 missile attack on the same airport wounded 26 civilians, drawing warnings of “stern action” from the coalition.
And on June 23, a rebel attack on Abha airport killed a Syrian and wounded 21 other civilians, the coalition said.
The raids come amid heightened regional tensions as key Saudi ally the United States presses a “maximum pressure” campaign against its arch-rival Iran after withdrawing from a landmark 2015 nuclear deal between major powers and Tehran.
Saudi Arabia has repeatedly accused Iran of supplying sophisticated weapons to the Huthis, a charge Tehran denies.
The coalition intervened in support of the Yemeni government in 2015 when President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi fled into Saudi exile as the rebels closed in on his last remaining territory in and around Aden.
Since then, the conflict has killed tens of thousands of people, many of them civilians, relief agencies say.
The fighting has triggered what the United Nations describes as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with millions displaced and in need of aid.