Why did Houthis hit Aramco with drones

Rebels attack oil plant in Saudi Arabia

A Houthi representative said 14 drones and eight ballistic missiles had been fired at "the heart of Saudi Arabia".

The Houthi rebels in Yemen have attacked central oil facilities in Saudi Arabia with drones and missiles. The group announced on Sunday that military targets in cities of Dharhan, Dammam, Asir and Jazan had also been targeted. The government in Riyadh spoke of a failed attack on global energy supplies. A drone coming from the sea wanted to attack the Saudi Aramco plants in Ras Tanura, said the Ministry of Energy.

However, the missile had previously been destroyed, said the Ministry of Defense. In addition, rubble from a missile fell near a residential area in Dhahran that is also used by Aramco. The attacks did not result in any casualties or damage.

A Houthi representative said 14 drones and eight ballistic missiles had been fired at "the heart of Saudi Arabia". For its part, the Saudi-led military coalition said twelve armed drones had been intercepted when attacking civilian targets. In addition, two rockets were shot down that should have hit Jazan.

The attacks were part of a larger attack on the kingdom with 14 drones and eight ballistic missiles, the rebels said. Dammam and Dhahran are important locations for the oil industry, where the state-owned Aramco is also based. The US consulate in Dhahran has warned US citizens of "possible rocket attacks and explosions" in the area and urged them to remain vigilant about possible further attacks.

New offensive

The Houthis had already announced in November that they had hit an Aramco facility in Jeddah with a cruise missile. According to Aramco, the attack caused an explosion and fire in a tank at a distribution station; the oil supply was therefore not impaired. In 2019 there were two attacks on Aramco facilities. The Houthis claimed the attacks for themselves. The US, however, blamed Iran, which denied responsibility.

The Houthi rebels, who are supported by Iran, have also launched a new offensive in Yemen on the strategically important city of Marib. A military alliance led by Saudi Arabia is fighting against them alongside the Yemeni government. At the same time, the rebels have intensified their attacks on Saudi Arabia in recent weeks. The alliance said on Sunday that it had intercepted ten rebel drones within five hours.

The Houthi in Yemen have been fighting a Saudi-led coalition for six years. The targets attacked on Sunday are in the east of the country, where most of Aramco's manufacturing and export facilities are located. A rocket and drone attack on the facilities forced the kingdom to suspend more than half of crude oil production in 2019, causing global oil prices to skyrocket. At the time, Saudi Arabia blamed arch-rival Iran for the attack. The government in Tehran rejected the allegations.

Fire in migrant camp

Meanwhile, at least eight people have died and 170 others have been injured in a fire in a migrant camp in the capital of civil war Yemen. "The total death toll is reportedly much higher," said the International Organization for Migration (IOM) on Sunday via Twitter. More than 90 people are seriously injured. The cause of the fire in the facility where migrants are being held initially remained unclear.

In Yemen, war has been raging for almost six years between the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels and a Saudi-led military alliance on the side of the government. Yet every year tens of thousands of young Africans from countries such as Somalia and Ethiopia set out for Yemen in order to travel on to the rich Gulf states in search of work.

(APA / AFP / Reuters / dpa)