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Houthis claim major drone operation near the UAE

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Yemen’s Houthi insurgents claimed a major drone strike operation today inside Saudi Arabia near the border with the United Arab Emirates. 

According to the insurgents, ten drones struck the Saudi Shaybah oil field that borders the UAE. A spokesman for the Houthis stated that the oil field was targeted as it is “among the largest strategic stockpiles of the Kingdom.” 

Saudi Aramco officials confirmed that a fire was put out at a “natural gas liquidation facility” within the oil field, but did not say if the fire was the result of a drone strike. 

But the Saudi Energy Ministry later stated that the fire was indeed caused by drone strikes, confirming the claim made by the Houthis. 

This marks one of the furthest confirmed drone strikes conducted by the Yemeni insurgents since beginning of its drone program last year. 

Last June, the Houthi movement claimed to have struck the Abu Dhabi airport with a drone strike but this was denied by the Emiratis. 

Inside Saudi Arabia, the Houthis have also said its forces struck a major oil pipeline near Riyadh with drones earlier this year. But US officials have alleged Iraqi militants, not the Houthis, were responsible for this attack. 

Given the distance between Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen and the Shaybah oil field over 1,000 miles away, today’s attack marks a worrying development in the conflict. 

The Houthis have clearly demonstrated that its drone capabilities, which have been supported by Iran, are continuously improving and can penetrate areas further away from Yemen.

[For more on Houthi drone strikes, the first of FDD’s Long War Journal’s three-part series on Houthi military capabilities: Analysis: Houthi drone strikes in Saudi Arabia and Yemen.]

Caleb Weiss is a contributor to FDD’s Long War Journal.

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