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The Houthi drone was reportedly shot down by Saudi forces, and its debris injured a dozen people

Saudi forces intercepted and destroyed a drone over Abha International Airport near the Yemeni border on Thursday, state media has said. At least 12 people were reportedly injured by falling debris, and Yemen’s Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for the foiled attack.

“Saudi defense forces destroyed a drone launched towards Abha International Airport,” AFP reported the Saudi Press Agency as saying. “12 civilians of various nationalities” were hurt, the report added, describing those wounded as citizens of Bangladesh, India, Nepal, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka, as well as two Saudis.

Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who have been waging war against the Saudi-backed government of Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi and a Saudi-led military coalition since 2015, claimed responsibility for the attack and called the target “an important military site at Abha airport.”

Abha is a civilian airport, but is protected by Saudi air defenses. It has been targeted by Houthi missiles and drones seven times since 2019, with one attack in mid-2019 killing a Syrian national and wounding seven.

The Houthis have also more recently turned their attention to the United Arab Emirates, targeting it with drones and missiles four times since mid-January. There are around 5,000 US troops stationed in Abu Dhabi, and although the US ceased offensive operations against the Houthis last year and the UAE withdrew its ground troops from Yemen in 2020, both nations continue to support the Saudi-led campaign there.

Yemen’s civil war has been described by the UN as the “world’s worst humanitarian crisis.” At the end of 2021, the UN Development Program estimated a death toll of 377,000 people, with around 70% of those killed under the age of five, and 60% killed by indirect causes like hunger and preventable disease following the Saudi-led blockade and sanctions by Western governments.

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