June 12 (UPI) -- Iranian-backed Houthi rebels launched a rocket attack on Saudi Arabia's Abha International Airport on Wednesday, injuring 26 civilians, officials said.
Rebels fired a cruise missile at the airport, located in southwest Saudia Arabia near the Yemen border and the Red Sea, rebel-aligned Masirah TV reported.
Among the injured were three women, two children and 21 others. Col. Turki al-Maliki said eight people were hospitalized.
Al-Maliki said the Houthi claim of responsibility amounts to a war crime because the attack targeted civilians. Officials said the attack suggests Houthi rebels have received new weapons that allow them to strike within Saudi Arabia.
The rebels told Al Jazeera the attack was part of a campaign against Saudi Arabia for its attacks on rebel supporters over the past four years. Coalition partners had recently stepped up attacks on Houthi strongholds in northern Yemen.
"The Houthi capabilities are getting better," Elisabeth Kendall, a senior research fellow at Oxford University, told Bloomberg. "This is one sign of how the war has backfired on Saudi Arabia. It was intended to reduce Iranian influence but instead, it has increased it."
Neighboring Bahrain blamed Iran for what it called a "terrorist attack."