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Houthi missile attack sparks fire at Saudi university as fighting rages in Yemen’s Marib

The Houthis said they had launched missiles at Saudi Aramco facilities [AFP File Image]

15 April, 2021

Debris from missiles fired by Houthi rebels into Saudi Arabia caused a small fire at a university in the southwest of the kingdom, as fierce fighting continues to rage in Yemen’s Marib province.

Saudi air defences intercepted five ballistic missiles and four drones deployed by the Houthis on Wednesday night and Thursday morning, the Saudi-led coalition which is fighting the rebels in Yemen said.

The missiles were fired and drones were launched from the Yemeni province of Saada, a rebel stronghold in the north of the country, toward the Saudi city of Jizan, said coalition spokesman Turki Al-Maliki.

“Debris fell on the campus of Jizan University, causing a small fire which was brought under control and there were no casualties,” the spokesman said, according to the official Saudi news agency SPA.

Maliki condemned the escalating Houthi air campaign against “civilian targets”, warning that these “hostile acts constitute war crimes”.

Also on Thursday, the US State Department issued a warning telling its citizens not to travel to Saudi Arabia due to the increased threat of missile and drone attacks.

Houthi military spokesperson Yahia Saree confirmed the attack, saying on Thursday that 11 drones and one missile had been used to target facilities belonging to Saudi oil company Aramco

Patriot anti-missile batteries and other “sensitive facilities” were also targeted by the Houthis in Jizan, according to Saree.

On Monday, the Houthis claimed to have carried out other attacks against Saudi Arabia, saying they had launched 17 drones and missiles at various targets including Aramco facilities.

Saudi authorities did not confirm any attacks on oil facilities at the time. However, the coalition indicated that six drones launched from Yemen had been intercepted, without mentioning any casualties.

Marib fighting continues

Thursday’s attack on Jizan came amid intense clashes between the Houthis and the Saudi-backed internationally-recognized Yemeni government in the oil rich province of Marib.

Marib is one of the last areas of northern Yemen to be controlled by the government.

The fighting has killed hundreds of people and displaced many more since February and is ongoing despite international calls for a ceasefire.

A source in the Yemeni government’s army said that clashes were continuing in the north and west of Marib province amid Houthi attacks on government positions.

The source, who requested anonymity, added that the Houthis had sustained heavy losses as a result of government artillery shelling and Saudi coalition airstrikes after trying to advance on the Tala Souda area of Marib province.

The Houthi rebels captured the Yemeni capital Sanaa in 2014, and today control most of northern Yemen.

In 2015, a coalition of Arab states led by Saudi Arabia intervened against them, in order to restore the Yemeni government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi to power.

Over 120,000 Yemeni civilians have been killed in the conflict and 10 million more are at risk of famine. The situation in Yemen has been called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis by the UN.

Both the Saudi-led coalition and the Houthis have been accused of targeting civilians by human rights groups.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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