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Yemeni rebels claim attack on Saudi oil facility in Jidda

Yemeni tribesmen loyal to the Houthi rebel movement raise their weapons
Tribesmen loyal to the Houthi rebel movement raise their weapons during a gathering in February in Sanaa, Yemen, aimed at mobilizing more fighters.
(Hani Mohammed / Associated Press)

Yemen’s Houthi rebels said they struck a Saudi oil facility in the port city of Jidda with a new cruise missile Monday, hours after Saudi Arabia finished hosting its virtual Group of 20 leaders summit.

The kingdom did not immediately acknowledge any attack as videos on social media appeared to show a fire at a Saudi Arabian Oil Co. facility in Jidda before dawn.

Yemeni Brig. Gen. Yehia Sarie, a Houthi military spokesman, tweeted that the rebels fired a new Quds-2 cruise missile at the facility. He posted a satellite image online that matched the North Jidda Bulk Plant belonging to Saudi Aramco, where oil products are stored in tanks.

That facility is just southeast of Jidda’s King Abdulaziz International Airport, a major airfield that handles incoming Muslim pilgrims en route to nearby Mecca.

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Online videos appeared to show a tank facility similar to the bulk plant on fire, with sirens heard wailing and police cars seen alongside a highway by the facility. Details of the videos posted before dawn Monday matched the general layout of the bulk plant. However, passersby could not see damage to the tank farm from the highway running beside the facility later Monday morning.

The U.S. Consulate in Jidda said it was not aware of any casualties from the alleged attack. It urged Americans to “review immediate precautions to take in the event of an attack and stay alert in case of additional future attacks.”

Saudi Arabia and others fought against Houthi rebels to restore government control in Yemen, but the coalition has splintered and the country is a mess.

Saudi state-run media did not acknowledge the Houthi claim. Saudi Aramco, the kingdom’s oil giant, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Its stock traded slightly up Monday on Riyadh’s Tadawul stock exchange as crude oil prices remained steady above $40 a barrel.

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The claimed attack comes just after a visit by outgoing U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, a meeting that reportedly included Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The kingdom also just hosted the annual G-20 summit, which concluded Sunday.

A Saudi-led coalition has been battling the Iranian-backed Houthis since March 2015, months after the rebels seized Yemen’s capital, Sanaa. The war has ground into a stalemate since, with Saudi Arabia facing international criticism for airstrikes that have killed civilians.

The Houthis have used Quds, or “Jerusalem,” missiles to target Saudi Arabia in the past. The Quds-1 has a copy of a small, Czech-made TJ-100 jet engine, with a range of 435 miles. United Nations experts have said that they don’t believe the missiles are built in Yemen and instead have been sold or traded to them in violation of an arms embargo.

Iran uses a copy of TJ-100 engines in its drone program. U.N. experts, Arab countries and the West say Iran supplies arms to the rebels, allegations denied by Tehran.

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The Quds-1 was used in a missile-and-drone strike on the heart of the kingdom’s oil industry in 2019 that shook global energy markets. The U.S. believes Iran carried out that attack, which Tehran denies.


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