Saudi airstrikes hit Yemen’s Houthis after Jiddah attack

Mar 25, 2022, 1:28 PM | Updated: Mar 26, 2022, 11:14 am
Yemeni police inspect a site of Saudi-led airstrikes targeting two houses in Sanaa, Yemen, Saturday...

Yemeni police inspect a site of Saudi-led airstrikes targeting two houses in Sanaa, Yemen, Saturday, March 26, 2022. A Houthi media office claimed an airstrike hit houses for guards of the social insurance office, killing at least seven people and wounding three others, including women and children. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)

(AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — A Saudi-led coalition fighting Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen unleashed a barrage of airstrikes on the capital and a strategic Red Sea city, officials said Saturday. At least eight people were killed.

The overnight airstrikes on Sanaa and Hodeida — both held by the Houthis — came a day after the rebels attacked an oil depot in the Saudi city of Jiddah, their highest-profile assault yet on the kingdom.

Brig. Gen. Turki al-Malki, a spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition, said the strikes targeted “sources of threat” to Saudi Arabia, according to the state-run Saudi Press Agency or SPA.

He said the coalition intercepted and destroyed two explosives-laden drones early Saturday. He said the drones were launched from Houthi-held civilian oil facilities in Hodeida, urging civilians to stay away from oil facilities in the city.

Footage circulated online showed flames and plumes of smoke over Sanaa and Hodeida. Associated Press journalists in the Yemeni capital heard loud explosions that rattled residential buildings there.

The Houthis said the coalition airstrikes hit a power plant, a fuel supply station and the state-run social insurance office in the capital.

A Houthi media office claimed an airstrike hit houses for guards of the social insurance office in Sanaa’s Haddah neighborhood, killing at least eight people and wounding four others, including women and children.

The office shared images it said for the aftermath of the airstrike. It showed wreckage in the courtyard of a social insurance office with the shattered windows of a nearby multiple-story building.

Hamoud Abbad, a local official with the Houthis in Sanaa, said the facility is located close to a building used by the U.N. agencies in the capital. He claimed that U.N. vehicles were seen leaving the area prior the the airstrikes.

In Hodeida, the Houthi media office said the coalition hit oil facilities in violation of a 2018 cease-fire deal that ended months of fighting in Hodeida, which handles about 70% of Yemen’s commercial and humanitarian imports. The strikes also hit the nearby Port Salif, also on the Red Sea.

Al-Malki, the coalition spokesperson, said it targeted drones being prepared in Hodeida to be launched on the Kingdom. He accused the Houthis of using civilian infrastructure, such as Hodeida’s ports and the Sanaa airport, to launch attacks on Saudi oil facilities, according to SPA.

Late Wednesday, coalition airstrikes rained on Houthi-held areas in Hodeida, al-Malki announced. No immediate casualties were reported.

A U.N. mission overseeing the Hodeida deal voiced concern about the airstrikes and urged warring sides to “maintain the civilian nature of the ports and avoid damage to civilian infrastructure.”

“Once again we are seeing civilians bearing the brunt of this conflict which is just getting worse every year,” said Erin Hutchinson, Yemen director at the Norwegian Refugee Council, a charity working in Yemen. “This escalation is going to do nothing to elevate the hardships that millions are going through.”

The escalation, which comes on the seventh anniversary of the Saudi-led coalition’s intervention in Yemen’s war, is likely to complicate efforts by the U.N. special envoy for Yemen, Hans Grundberg, to reach a humanitarian truce during the holy month of Ramadan in early April.

It comes as the Gulf Cooperation Council plans to host the warring sides for talks late this month. The Houthis however have rejected Riyadh — the Saudi capital where the GCC is headquartered — as a venue for talks, which are expected to include an array of Yemeni factions.

The Houthis also announced Saturday a uniliteral initiative that included a three-day suspension of cross-border attacks on Saudi Arabia, as well as fighting inside Yemen. They demanded an end to the coalition air and sea blockade on their territories before engaging in negotiations.

Peter Salisbury, Yemen expert at the International Crisis Group, doubted that ongoing efforts will succeed in bringing a peaceful settlement to the grinding war in the near future, given that international attention is now focusing on other crises including the war in Ukraine.

“I really wouldn’t buy into any optimism we’ll see diplomatic progress in 2022,” he said. “It’s pretty clear that all parties are still looking for ways to either win outright or cause significant damage to their rivals.”

Yemen’s brutal war erupted in 2014 after the Houthis seized Sanaa. The Saudi-led coalition entered the war months later to try restore the internationally recognized government. The conflict has in recent years become a regional proxy war that has killed more than 150,000 people, including over 14.500 civilians. It also created one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world.

The Houthis’ Friday attack came ahead of a Formula One race in the kingdom on Sunday, raising concerns about Saudi Arabia’s ability to defend itself against the Iranian-backed rebels. The Houthis targeted the same fuel depot that they had attacked in recent days — the North Jiddah Bulk Plant that sits just southeast of the city’s international airport and is a crucial hub for Muslim pilgrims heading to Mecca.

Satellite photos from Planet Labs PBC analyzed by The Associated Press showed one of the two tanks damaged in the Houthi attack on Jiddah still burning late Saturday morning. Bright red flames leapt up from the tank, with thick black smoke rising from the fire.

The attack appeared to target new tanks, as a tank twice struck by the Houthis just two rows north appeared untouched in the new attack. A tank alongside the burning one appeared to have white wrap and fire-suppressing foam around it.

In Egypt, hundreds of passengers were stranded at Cairo International Airport after their Jiddah-bound flights were canceled because of the Houthi attack, according to airport officials.

The kingdom’s flagship carrier Saudia announced the cancelation of two flights on its website. The two had 456 passengers booked. A third canceled flight with 146 passengers was operated by the low-cost Saudi airline Flynas.

Some passengers found seats on other Saudi Arabia-bound flights and others were booked into hotels close to the Cairo airport, according to Egyptian officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because there were not authorized to brief media.


Magdy reported from Cairo. Associated Press writer Jon Gambrell contributed from Dubai, the United Arab Emirates.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


FILE - A Seattle police officer walks past tents used by people experiencing homelessness, March 11...
Associated Press

Seattle, feds seek to end most oversight of city’s police

  SEATTLE (AP) — The U.S. Justice Department and Seattle officials asked a judge Tuesday to end most federal oversight of the city’s police department, saying its sustained, decade-long reform efforts are a model for other cities whose law enforcement agencies face federal civil rights investigations. Seattle has overhauled virtually all aspects of its police […]
14 hours ago
Associated Press

Washington moves to end child sex abuse lawsuit time limits

People who were sexually abused as children in Washington state may soon be able to bring lawsuits against the state, schools or other institutions for failing to stop the abuse, no matter when it happened.
14 hours ago
Three children and three adults were killed in a shooting at a private Christian grade school in Na...
Associated Press

Nashville shooter who killed 6 drew maps, surveilled school

Three children were killed in a shooting at a private Christian grade school in Nashville on Monday, hospital officials said.
2 days ago
(Photo from KIRO 7)...
Associated Press

Police: passenger pulled jet’s emergency slide before LAX to SEA flight

A passenger on a Delta Air Lines flight out of Los Angeles International Airport was detained for triggering the plane’s emergency slide prior to takeoff, authorities said.
2 days ago
Law enforcement officials work at the scene along Wooding Road on Wednesday, March 22, 2023, east o...
Associated Press

Why murder defendant was free before killings in Washington

Kirkland Warren was out on bail pending a long-delayed murder trial in Arkansas. But when he was arrested in Washington, he posted bond and was released.
2 days ago
Associated Press

Much of drought-plagued West Coast faces salmon fishing ban

The surreal and desperate scramble boosted the survival rate of the hatchery-raised fish, but still it was not enough to reverse the declining stocks in the face of added challenges.
5 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Emergency Preparedness...

Prepare for the next disaster at the Emergency Preparedness Conference

Being prepared before the next emergency arrives is key to preserving businesses and organizations of many kinds.
SHIBA volunteer...

Volunteer to help people understand their Medicare options!

If you’re retired or getting ready to retire and looking for new ways to stay active, becoming a SHIBA volunteer could be for you!
safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Saudi airstrikes hit Yemen’s Houthis after Jiddah attack