Houthi rebels in Yemen say they deployed 10 armed drones which hit two large Saudi Aramco oil facilities on Saturday morning, causing massive fires and huge clouds of smoke on the sites.
The attack was carried out by the Houthi Air Force, the spokesperson for the Yemeni rebel group, Brigadier Yahya Serai, said on Al Masirah TV, vowing to “expand the operations against the Saudi regime in the future.”
The drones targeted a refinery in the city of Abqaiq in the kingdom’s oil-rich Eastern Province, which state-run giant Aramco describes as the world’s largest oil processing plant, and a refinery at the vast Khurais oil field, around 150km from Riyadh.
Multiple videos posted on social media show an Aramco compound engulfed in flames and thick black smoke billowing from the site. In some footage, loud bangs resembling the sound of explosions can be heard in the background, along with apparent sounds of gunfire.
The gunshots and the explosions were heard by local residents at around 3 am this morning in Aramco compound near #Buqayq, #SaudiArabia. Some people I spoke to say there were about 12 explosions that rock the area. pic.twitter.com/0r27l2V2Zo
— ZaidBenjamin زيد بنيامين (@ZaidBenjamin5) September 14, 2019
Here's a long video compilation showing different angles of what is supposedly the aftermath of the explosion. pic.twitter.com/HEtaPqu93n
— Nate Rosenblatt (@NateRosenblatt) September 14, 2019
The capital of the oil industry
Explosions and fires
Now residents are evacuating the city
It has the largest community of Americans and Westerners pic.twitter.com/iTCNza0FHl
— Nasser (@Nasser22820844) September 14, 2019
Riyadh acknowledged that its oil facilities were hit by drones but did not immediately name a perpetrator. The authorities said the fires on both sites are under control.
The first video shows one of the explosions from the vantage point of a parking lot nearby. Bursts of gunfire are audible in the distance.
— John Marquee (@john_marquee) September 14, 2019
Saudi Arabia has led a bombing campaign in Yemen since it intervened in the nation’s civil war in 2015, assisting ousted President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi’s fight against the Houthi rebels who control the nation’s capital, Sanaa. The campaign placed the Saudis under fire from the UN and international human rights groups, which have repeatedly stated that the airstrikes have caused mass civilian casualties.
The Saudis have accused Iran of arming and directing the Houthis to launch drone and rocket attacks across the kingdom’s border. In May, armed drones caused minor damage to two Aramco pumping stations in the Eastern Province. While the Houthis claimed responsibility for the attack, the Saudis blamed Tehran. Iranian officials denied the allegations.