RIYADH, Saudi Arabia—A drone attack on an oil refinery in Saudi Arabia’s capital, Riyadh, started a small fire that did not cause injuries or affect supplies, the kingdom’s energy ministry said early Friday.
The statement did not specify where the drone strike was launched from. Later Friday, Yemen’s rebel Houthis who have been battling a Saudi-led coalition in their country since 2015 claimed responsibility for the drone strike.
In a video statement, the rebels’ military spokesman, Brig. Gen. Yehia Sarie, said Houthi forces had targeted an Aramco facility in Riyadh in a multiple drone attack. He also claimed the Houthis had carried out attacks on the Saudi company’s facilities in the areas of Jizan and Abha. The attacks, he said, were a response to the coalition tightening its blockade on the entry of fuel into Houthi-held territory in Yemen.
The kingdom’s oil facilities have been targeted by the Houthis in the past. The Iranian-backed rebels also claimed responsibility for a shocking attack in 2019 at the Abqaiq oil processing facility in Eastern Province, which temporarily knocked out half the kingdom’s daily production.
The ministry statement, published by the state-run Saudi Press Agency, was released shortly after midnight, saying the attack took place around 4:40 a.m. Thursday. It said such attacks not only target Saudi Arabia, but also the security and stability of energy supply to the world.
Saudi Arabia has been involved in Yemen’s civil war since 2015, fighting against the Houthis who overran the capital of Sanaa and ousted the government there from power. Despite seven years of fighting, the Houthis remain in control of Sanaa and much of northern Yemen.
Yemen’s conflict has killed more than 150,000 people, both fighters and civilians, and spawned what the United Nations says is the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Many more have been internally displaced.
Around 13 million Yemenis are headed for starvation due to a protracted civil conflict and a lack of funding for humanitarian aid, the U.N. food agency has warned.