RIYADH: Saudi forces have intercepted two explosives-laden Yemeni rebel drones, one of which targeted a southern city that has repeatedly come under attack over the past week, a Riyadh-led military coalition said early Tuesday.
One of the drones targeted a civilian area in Abha city and the second was shot down over Yemeni air space after it was launched towards the kingdom, the coalition fighting the Iran-linked Huthi rebels said in a statement released by the official Saudi Press Agency.
The coalition reported no casualties from the attacks late Monday.
Huthi-run Al-Masirah TV reported earlier that the rebels had launched drone attacks on Abha airport, which they have repeatedly targeted over the past week.
The rebels claimed another drone strike on Abha airport early Monday, but it was not immediately confirmed by the coalition.
Last Wednesday, the coalition said a rebel missile attack on Abha airport left 26 civilians wounded, drawing promises of “stern action” from the military alliance.
Human Rights Watch denounced Wednesday’s strike as an apparent “war crime”, urging the Huthis to immediately stop all attacks on civilian infrastructure in Saudi Arabia.
The rebels, who have faced persistent coalition bombing since March 2015 that has exacted a heavy civilian death toll, have stepped up missile and drone attacks across the border in recent weeks and warned that coalition airports were valid targets.
The attacks come amid spiralling regional tensions with Iran, which Saudi Arabia has repeatedly accused of arming the rebels with sophisticated weapons. Tehran denies the charge.
Following recent rebel attacks, Saudi state media has reported the coalition was intensifying its air raids on rebel positions in the northern Yemeni province of Hajjah and the rebel-held capital Sanaa.
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 second city Aden.
Since then, the conflict has killed tens of thousands of people, many of them civilians, relief agencies say.
It has triggered what the UN describes as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with more than 24 million Yemenis – more than two-thirds of the population – in need of aid