The Saudi-led coalition fighting Iran-backed rebels in Yemen said Sunday that it had launched a new air campaign on Yemen’s capital and other provinces, in retaliation for a series of missile and drone strikes targeting key military and oil facilities across Saudi Arabia.
“The targeting of civilians and civilian facilities is a red line,” Col. Turki al-Maliki, a spokesman for the coalition, was quoted as saying by the official Saudi Press Agency.
It was the first time in months that Sanaa was bombed by Saudi warplanes, an escalation that comes as the kingdom grapples with a major increase in cross-border strikes on its own infrastructure, including an attack on a major offshore oil loading facility late Sunday.
The wave of Saudi bombings on Houthi rebel sites also represents the first since President Joe Biden’s long-awaited announcement last month that he was ending U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen, including some arms sales to the country.
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Residents in Sanaa, Yemen’s rebel-held capital, reported hearing huge explosions as a round of bombs fell on the city Sunday.
There were no immediate reports of casualties.
The Houthi-run al-Masirah satellite TV channel reported at least seven airstrikes on the Sanaa districts of Attan and al-Nahda.
Al-Masirah did not identify the stricken facilities, but black smoke was seen rising over military camps in the area. T
he channel also reported an airstrike in the district of Bajil, in the key southwestern province of Hodeida.
In announcing its new air campaign, the coalition claimed the Houthi attacks have been encouraged by a Biden administration decision to remove them from the U.S.’s terror list.
The designation of the Houthis as a terrorist organization was announced in the waning days of former President Donald Trump’s administration and prompted widespread outcry from the United Nations and humanitarian groups working in Yemen.
While Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia rarely cause damage or casualties, strikes on major oil facilities in Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, have shaken energy markets and the world economy. —AP