Missile Bypasses U.S. Patriot Missile System
DUBAI (Dispatches) – The Yemeni army and their Houthi allies said on Wednesday they had fired a cruise missile at Abha airport in southern Saudi Arabia, which left 26 people wounded.
A Saudi military statement said a projectile hit the arrivals hall at Abha airport, which is about 200 km (125 miles) north of the Yemen border and serves domestic and regional routes.
The Houthi media center said the strike destroyed the control tower. The attack follows an armed drone strike last month on two oil-pumping stations in the kingdom that were claimed by the Houthis.
A Houthi military spokesman on Tuesday threatened that the group would target every airport in Saudi Arabia and that the coming days would reveal "big surprises”.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates intervened in Yemen in 2015 to try to restore a former government which resident and then fled the capital Sanaa to Riyadh in late 2014.
A Houthi military spokesman said the attack was a response to Saudi Arabia’s "crimes” against Yemen. "The most modern American systems could not intercept the missile,” he said in comments carried by the group’s media center.
The Saudi military spokesman did not immediately respond when asked if the projectile had been intercepted by the kingdom’s Patriot missiles before hitting the airport.
The Houthis have previously targeted Saudi cities with drones and missiles. In March 2018 an Egyptian was killed in Riyadh by missile shrapnel.
The nearest Patriot battery to Abha airport is about 20 km to the north, said Jeremy Binnie, Middle East & Africa editor of Jane’s Defense Weekly.
"A cruise missile might be able to come in at a sufficiently low altitude that it could not be engaged before reaching its target,” he said.
On Tuesday, the spokesman for Yemeni armed forces Brigadier General Yahya Saree urged Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to put an immediate end to their military aggression against Yemen or face major surprises.
Speaking during a news conference in Sanaa on Tuesday, he said Yemeni army forces and their Houthi allies had launched an airstrike against King Khalid Air Base the previous evening.
A squadron of domestically-manufactured Qasef-2K combat drones were used against the base near the southwestern Saudi city of Khamis Mushait.
The attack targeted advanced radars, arms depots and control rooms in the base. Saree said King Khalid Air Base serves as a key launchpad for airstrikes on Yemen.
"Thank God, we are capable of carrying out more than one operation at the same time,” he said later after the Abha airport operation, adding that Yemeni forces’ "list of targets is increasing day by day.”
"Our surprises will be unveiled soon. God willing we will adopt the equation of an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,” he said.
On Sunday, a Houthi spokesman said the airports of countries involved in the war on Yemen and blockade of the country would be targeted one after the other.
"Given the criminal siege on Sanaa International Airport and the failure of the UN to take proper measures… the countries of the aggression must know that their airports are within the range of our attacks,” Muhammad Abdul-Salam tweeted.
Last week, Yemeni forces and their allies launched multiple airstrikes against Jizan airport in Saudi Arabia near the border with Yemen, using Qasef-2K drones.