Houthis target civilian infrastructure in Najran

The attack came after Iran announced it has quadrupled its uranium-enrichment production capacity.
Tuesday 21/05/2019
A handout picture provided by the Iranian presidency shows the Iranian president Hassan Rouhani (C) during a meeting in Tehran on July 14, 2018. (AFP)
A handout picture provided by the Iranian presidency shows the Iranian president Hassan Rouhani (C) during a meeting in Tehran on July 14, 2018. (AFP)

Saudi Arabia says Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi rebels have launched a bomb-laden drone targeting civilian infrastructure in a city along the kingdom's border to Yemen.

A statement early Tuesday on the state-run Saudi Press Agency quoted Saudi-led coalition spokesman Col. Turki al-Maliki as saying the Houthis "had tried to target" the site in Najran.

The statement did not elaborate but used a word in Arabic that often refers to hospitals, power plants and schools. 

It was not clear if there were any injuries. Al-Maliki warned there would be a "strong deterrent" to such attacks and described the Houthis as the "terrorist militias of Iran.

Yemen's Iranian-allied Houthi rebels said later Tuesday they attacked a Saudi airport and military base with a bomb-laden drone. 

There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

The attack on the Saudi city of Najran came after Iran announced it has quadrupled its uranium-enrichment production capacity a year after the US withdrew from its nuclear deal with world powers, though still a level far lower than needed for atomic weapons.

Underlining the tensions, Iranian President Hassan Rohani is seeking expanded executive powers to better deal with "economic war" triggered by the Trump's administration's renewal and escalation of sanctions targeting the Islamic Republic, the state-run IRNA news agency reported Tuesday.

By increasing production, Iran soon will exceed the stockpile limitations set by the nuclear accord. Tehran has set a July 7 deadline for Europe to set new terms for the deal, or it will enrich closer to weapons-grade levels in the Middle East already on edge. The US has deployed bombers and an aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf over still-unspecified threats from Iran.

In the drone attack, the Houthis' Al-Masirah satellite news channel said they targeted the airport in Najran with a Qasef-2K drone, striking an "arms depot." Najran, 840 kilometres (525 miles) southwest of Riyadh, lies on the Saudi-Yemen border and has repeatedly been targeted by the Iran-allied Houthis.

Last week, the Houthis launched a coordinated drone attack on a Saudi oil pipeline amid heightened tensions between Iran and the US.

(AP)