The Houthi militia in Yemen has claimed responsibility for a rare drone attack that caused three oil tankers to explode in the United Arab Emirates, killing three people on Monday. File Photo by Burachet/Shutterstock
Jan. 17 (UPI) -- The Saudi-led coalition said late Monday it retaliated against the Houthi militia in Yemen after the rebels claimed responsibility for a rare drone attack that caused three oil tankers to explode in the United Arab Emirates, killing three people earlier in the day.
The official Saudi Press Agency tweeted that separate airstrikes on Houthi strongholds and camps in the Yemen capital Sana'a had begun.
The retaliatory strike was launched hours after the Kingdom said it would "respond firmly and forcefully to all terrorist practices and cowardly acts against it."
Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement carried by the press agency that the Iran-backed Houthi rebels attacked two economic facilities and the Abu Dhabi International Airport, resulting in "the death of a number of innocent civilians and the injury of others."
Abu Dhabi police said in a statement on Facebook that the victims included one person from Pakistan and two from India and that six other people sustained minor injuries during the drone strike.
A fire tied to the drone strike was also reported at a construction site near Abu Dhabi International Airport, police said, leading to the cancellation and delays of some flights and two airport staff being transferred to a local hospital for treatment.
The Saudi government also said it destroyed eight drones launched toward the country that were tied to the attack in Abu Dhabi, Saudi state media reported.
Houthi military spokesman Yahya Sare'e revealed in a tweet that the Iran-backed militia was behind "a special military operation in the depth of UAE" and that he would later provide further details.
The Houthi minister for information told Al Jazeera that the group made the attack to "teach the UAE a lesson" and "stop its involvement and participating in the Saudi-led coalition war in Yemen."
An international coalition of troops led by Saudi Arabia, including Emirate forces, have fought a seven-year-long war with Houthi rebels to back the Yemeni government as the country itself is engaged in a civil war widely viewed as a conflict over the influence of Iran in the region.
Anwar Gargash, an adviser to Emirate President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, released a statement on Twitter condemning the "the sinful Houthi attack" on civilian facilities in Abu Dhabi.
"Terrorist militias' tampering with the stability of the region is too weak to affect the security and safety process we live in, and the fate of this reckless and absurdity is to demise and defeat," he said.
The attack also received condemnation from countries including Lebanon and Bahrain, as well as Ahmed Aboul Gheit, secretary-general of the League of Arab States.
Gheit said in a statement that "the terrorist attacks carried out by the Houthi militia reflected its terrorist nature, and revealed its true goals of wreaking havoc in the region in order to achieve the agendas of those working for them."
"The Arab League stands with the Emirates in the face of these cowardly terrorist acts that will never compromise its position as a fortress of safety, and an address for stability and prosperity," he said.
In Washington, the State Department said U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Emirati minister of foreign affairs Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan over the phone during a conversation in which he condemned the rebels' attack while expressing condolences to the families of the victims and reiterated U.S. support for the UAE.
White House national security advisor Jake Sullivan said in a statement the United States condemns the attack and will work with the UAE and international partners to hold the Houthi rebels responsible.
"Our commitment to the security of the UAE is unwavering and we stand beside our Emirati partners against all threats to their territory," Sullivan said.