Saudi-led coalition says it has started an operation to "neutralise" targeting oil facilities, affecting security and to protect "global energy sources" from hostile attacks after Yemen's Houthis hit Saudi oil fields in Jeddah.
The Saudi-led coalition has launched air strikes "against sources of threat in Sanaa and Hodeida" following attacks by Yemeni Houthi rebels in the kingdom, the official Saudi news agency SPA said.
"The military operation will continue until its objectives are achieved," the coalition said early Saturday in a statement quoted by SPA.
Yemen's Houthi rebels attacked an oil depot on Friday in the Saudi city of Jeddah ahead of a Formula One race in the kingdom. It was the rebels' highest-profile assault yet, though Saudi authorities pledged the upcoming grand prix would go on as scheduled.
Prior to the retaliatory attack, the Saudi-led coalition said "Our goal is to protect global energy sources from hostile attacks and ensure supply chains," according to Al Arabiya.
The attack targeted the same fuel depot that the Houthis had attacked in recent days, the North Jiddah Bulk Plant that sits just southeast of the city's international airport and is a crucial hub for Muslim pilgrims heading to Mecca. No injuries were reported in the attack.
The publicly traded Saudi Arabian Oil Co., known as Saudi Aramco, did not respond to a request for comment. Saudi authorities acknowledged a "hostile operation" by the Houthis targeting the depot with a missile.
Yemen’s Houthi rebels have attacked Aramco petroleum products distribution station in the Saudi city of Jeddah ahead of a Formula One race in the kingdom, causing a fire in two storage tanks but no casualties pic.twitter.com/d1nhAVaqhy— TRT World (@trtworld) March 25, 2022
'Attack on global economy'
In Yemen, Saudi Arabia leads a coalition battling the Iran-backed Houthis, who seized Yemen's capital of Sanaa in September 2014. The kingdom, which entered the war in 2015, has been internationally criticised for its airstrikes that have killed scores of civilians - something the Houthis point to as they launch drones, missiles and mortars into the kingdom.
Brig. Gen. Turki al Malki, a spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition, said the fire damaged two tanks and was put out without injuries.
"This hostile escalation targets oil facilities and aims to undermine energy security and the backbone of the global economy," al Malki said, according to the state-run Saudi Press Agency.
"These hostile attacks had no impact or repercussions in any way, shape or form on public life in Jiddah."
'Reckless terrorist attack'
The Saudi-led coalition warned overnight it would launch new attacks on Yemen, including on the hard-hit port city of Hodeida.
Jake Sullivan, White House national security adviser, condemned the attacks and called them "clearly enabled by Iran" despite an ongoing UN arms embargo. While Tehran denies arming the Houthis, UN experts and Western nations have linked weaponry in the rebels' hands back to Iran.
In Tehran, authorities bathed its Azadi, or "Freedom," Square in a light projection showing the faces of Houthi leaders.
"At a time when the parties should be focused on de-escalation and bringing needed life-saving relief to the Yemeni people ahead of the holy month of Ramadan, the Houthis continue their destructive behavior and reckless terrorist attacks striking civilian infrastructure," US Secretary of State Antony Blinken separately said in a statement.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson condemned the Houthi attacks on Twitter. "These strikes put civilian lives at risk and must stop," he wrote.