Military Capabilities

Yemeni rebels claim second cruise missile attack

13 June 2019

A photograph taken during a guided press tour with the Saudi military on 13 June shows the damage caused to the roof of Abha International Airport by an attack that Ansar Allah (Houthis) claimed was carried out on the previous day using a cruise missile. Source: Fayez Nureldine / AFP / Getty Images

The Iranian-backed Yemeni rebel group Ansar Allah (Houthis) claimed on 12 June that it had carried out its second cruise missile attack, this time against Abha International Airport in southwest Saudi Arabia.

"This is the second time that the missile force has fired a cruise-type missile; the first time targeting the nuclear reactor in Abu Dhabi on 3 December 2017," it said in a statement posted on its website.

At the time of publication, the group had not released any imagery of the missile that was used against the airport, with its Al-Masirah television channel instead recycling the video footage of the earlier attack against the Barakah nuclear power plant that is nearing completion in the west of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The video showed what appeared to be a ground-launched version of the Soviet Kh-55 air-launched long-range cruise missile. Iran is known to have obtained Kh-55s from Ukraine and has unveiled two ground-launched derivatives called the Soumar and the Hoveizeh.

While the Emirati authorities said the nuclear power plant was not attacked, the Saudis confirmed that Abha International Airport was hit. Colonel Turki al-Maliki, the spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition fighting Ansar Allah, said a projectile hit the airport's arrivals hall, resulting in eight people being taken to hospital with moderate injuries and another 18 with minor injuries being treated at the scene.

Col Maliki said Saudi military and security forces were working to determine what type of projectile was used but noted that Ansar Allah had claimed it was a cruise missile, which he said was evidence that Iran was continuing to supply special weapons to the group to carry out terrorist attacks that deliberately targeted civilians.

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