Saudi warns Iran over Yemeni rebel airport attack

Saudi warns Iran over Yemeni rebel airport attack

Riyadh accused its arch-foe Tehran on Thursday of ordering aYemeni rebel missile strike which wounded 26 people at a Saudi airport andwarned of "grave consequences".

"The continuation of the Iranian regime's aggressionand reckless escalation, whether directly or through its militias, will resultin grave consequences," deputy defence minister Prince Khaled bin Salmantweeted.

Yemen's Huthi rebels hit the civilian airport in the popularmountain resort of Abha in the southwest of the kingdom on Wednesday, damagingthe arrivals hall and forcing its closure for several hours.

"We will confront the Huthi militia's crimes withunwavering resolve," said Prince Khaled, a son of King Salman.

"Their targeting of a civilian airport exposes to theworld the recklessness of Iran's escalation and the danger it poses to regionalsecurity and stability." Iran and the Yemeni rebels both follow arms ofthe Shiite branch of Islam but Tehran has always denied providing more thanmoral support to the rebels.

Riyadh has accused the rebels of being Iranian proxies eversince it led its allies in launching a military intervention against them inMarch 2015.

"The Iranian regime is the only party in the regionthat has been pursuing reckless escalation, through the use of ballisticmissiles and UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) to directly target civilianinstallations and innocent civilians," Prince Khaled said.

"For 40 years, the Iranian regime has been spreadingchaos, death and destruction, by sponsoring and financing terroristorganisations including the Huthis." There has been a spate of rebelattacks on Saudi targets in recent weeks which have coincided with reports ofintensified coalition strikes on rebel strongholds on the other side of theborder.

The rebels say that missile and drone strikes against SaudiArabia are one of few ways that they can retaliate against more than for yearsof bombing by the Saudi-led coalition which has exacted a heavy civilian deathtoll in Yemen. Since 2015, 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 worsthumanitarian crisis, with 24.1 million Yemenis — more than two-thirds of thepopulation — in need of aid. Concern over the civilian toll from the Saudi-ledair war has triggered a fierce battle over US arms sales to the kingdom thathas pitted President Donald Trump's administration against both houses ofCongress.

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