RIYADH: Abha International Airport in Saudi Arabia’s Asir province has fully resumed operations following a drone attack by the Iranian-backed Houthi militia based in Yemen.
Arab coalition spokesman Col. Turki Al-Maliki said the attack by the Houthis had injured nine civilians — eight Saudis and one Indian citizen — all of whom are in stable condition in a hospital.
The US "strongly condemned" the strike - the third such attack in less than three weeks.
"These attacks are risking the lives of many and injuring innocent civilians," a State Department spokeswoman said. "We call for an immediate end to these violent actions, which only exacerbate the conflict in Yemen and deepen mistrust.
"We stand firmly with our Saudi partners in defending their borders against these continued threats by the Houthis, who rely on Iranian-made weapons and technology to carry out such attacks."
The U.S. strongly condemns today’s Houthi attack on #Abha Airport in #Saudi Arabia, the third such attack in less than three weeks. These #Iranian-backed Houthi attacks risk the lives of many and injure innocent civilians. We call for an immediate end to these violent actions. pic.twitter.com/0AKnKc6GXn— Morgan Ortagus (@statedeptspox) July 2, 2019
Former Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Dr. Ali Awadh Asseri, who was in Abha at the time, said: “I think this terrorist attack on civilians reflects their failure in this war — that’s why they are targeting civilians.
“It’s time for the international community to take action and for the UN to take necessary measures to punish Iran and stop it from doing such things.
“Such attacks will only reinforce our national unity and our national cohesion. The Houthi’s aim is to disturb our unity so it’s so sad that the target is a civilian target, but that’s the only thing they can do. But our people are safe and they will remain safe and strong to defeat anyone who tries to attack this country.”
Asseri added that the operation of the airport was not affected by the attack, and that flights were still coming in and out of the airport.
“This will not affect the tourism season in Abha and Asir, and people here are very solid; they have great faith in their leadership and their country,” he said.
Arab Coalition spokesman Col. Turki Al-Maliki said the fight against Houthis would continue, as they repeatedly violated international law by targeting civilians and civilian structures.
The militants claimed the attack through their own media, the spokesman added.
Hatem Al-Ahmad, a Syrian artist based in Abha, said that everything in the area was under control. “There is a festival underway beside the airport, and as far as I know it is going pretty well and welcoming a fair number of visitors every day.”
Egypt, Bahrain, the UAE and the US have all condemned the tactics of the Houthis in targeting civilians. The US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, John Abizaid, said: “We strongly condemn these acts of violence against innocent civilians. The Houthis must stop this — our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.”
Tuesday’s attack is the third targeting the airport in the last four weeks, with the previous two taking place on June 23 and 12.
One person was killed in the second attack, and overall there have been 56 people injured.