A drone attack on Friday March 19 in the Saudi capital sparked a fire in an oil refinery. It has been claimed by the Houthi rebels, who have just made a strategic advance in warring northern Yemen. This is the second major attack since early March targeting Saudi energy facilities, highlighting the escalation of conflict in neighboring Yemen, a war-torn country between the Iranian-backed Houthis and the government backed by a military coalition under command. Saudi.
“The oil refinery in Riyadh was attacked by drones, setting off a fire which was controlled”, said the Saudi Ministry of Energy, specifying that there was no victim. Condemning “a cowardly attack”, the ministry said the strikes were not only targeting the kingdom, but also the global economy and economic security. The United States “strongly condemned” this attack as well as “Houthis’ attempts to disrupt the world’s energy supply by targeting Saudi infrastructure”State Department spokeswoman Jalina Porter told reporters.
The Houthis confirmed in a statement that they targeted oil giant Saudi Aramco with six drones in response to “brutal aggression” of the military coalition in Yemen. The rebels have stepped up attacks on Saudi territory in recent weeks. Riyadh announced in early March that a drone had struck a major oil port and that a ballistic missile had targeted Aramco facilities in the east.
Friday’s attack comes the day the Houthis took control of a mountain on the outskirts of Marib – the last government stronghold in northern Yemen – a major step forward in conquering this strategic city. The rebels have “took control of Mount Hilan which overlooks Marib after fighting which left dozens of people dead and injured”, a military official of the government forces told AFP.
After more than six years of war, the Houthis relaunched their offensive against this oil region on February 8, resulting in deadly fighting. Marib is located about 120 kilometers east of the capital Sana’a, controlled since 2014 by the Houthis as much as much of the north of the country. The capture of Marib would be a blow to pro-government forces and to Saudi Arabia. It would give the rebels a new source of income and a position of strength in possible negotiations.
The war has plunged the country into the world’s worst humanitarian crisis today, according to the UN. It has killed tens of thousands of people, according to international NGOs, not to mention millions of displaced people and a population on the brink of famine.