Yemen rebels strike oil depot in Saudi city hosting F1 race

A cloud of smoke rises from a burning oil depot in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, Friday, March 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

A cloud of smoke rises from a burning oil depot in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, Friday, March 25, 2022. (AP Photograph/Hassan Ammar)

JIDDAH, Saudi Arabia — Yemen’s Houthi rebels attacked an oil depot on Friday in the Saudi city of Jiddah forward of a Formulation One race in the dominion. It was the rebels’ highest-profile assault but, although Saudi authorities pledged the upcoming grand prix would go on as scheduled.

The assault focused the identical gas depot that the Houthis had attacked in latest days, the North Jiddah Bulk Plant that sits simply southeast of the city’s worldwide airport and is a vital hub for Muslim pilgrims heading to Mecca. No accidents had been reported in the assault.

The Saudi Arabian Oil Co., generally known as Saudi Aramco, didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark. Saudi authorities acknowledged a “hostile operation” by the Houthis concentrating on the depot with a missile.

In Yemen, Saudi Arabia leads a coalition battling the Iran-backed Houthis, who seized Yemen’s capital of Sanaa in September 2014. The dominion, which entered the conflict in 2015, has been internationally criticized for its airstrikes killing which have killed scores of civilians — one thing the Houthis level to as they launch drones, missiles and mortars into the dominion.

Brig. Gen. Turki al-Malki, a spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition, stated the hearth broken two tanks and was put out with out accidents.

“This hostile escalation targets oil facilities and aims to undermine energy security and the backbone of global economy,” al-Malki stated, in line with the state-run Saudi Press Company. “These hostile attacks had no impact or repercussions in any way, shape or form on public life in Jiddah.”

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson condemned the Houthi assaults on Twitter. “These strikes put civilian lives at risk and must stop,” he wrote.

An Related Press photojournalist overlaying apply laps on the F1 observe in Jiddah noticed the smoke rising in the gap to the east, simply after 5:40 p.m. Because the flames rose, the tops of the tanks of the majority plant had been clearly seen some 11.5 kilometers (7 miles) away.

Drivers raced on into the night whilst the hearth burned.

The second-ever Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in Jiddah is happening on Sunday, although issues had been raised by some over the latest assaults concentrating on the dominion.

Hours later, the F1 stated plans for Saturday’s third apply and qualifying and Sunday’s race had been nonetheless set to go forward. The Saudi Motorsport Co., which promotes the race, acknowledged the assault however stated the “race weekend schedule will continue as planned.”

We “remain in direct contact with Saudi security authorities, as well as F1 and the FIA to ensure all necessary security and safety measures,” the corporate stated, referring to motorsport’s governing physique.

“The safety and security of all our guests continues to be our main priority.”

The al-Masirah satellite news channel run by Yemen’s Houthi rebels later claimed they had attacked an Aramco facility in Jiddah, along with other targets in Riyadh and elsewhere.

Meanwhile, Saudi state TV also acknowledged attacks in one town targeting water tanks that damaged vehicles and homes. Another attack targeted an electrical substation in an area of southwestern Saudi Arabia near the Yemeni border, state TV said.

The North Jiddah Bulk Plant stores diesel, gasoline and jet fuel for use in Jiddah, the kingdom’s second-largest city. It accounts for over a quarter of all of Saudi Arabia’s supplies and also supplies fuel crucial to running a regional desalination plant.

The Houthis have twice targeted the North Jiddah plant with cruise missiles. One attack came in November 2020. The last came on Sunday as part of a wider barrage by the Houthis.

At the time of the 2020 attack, the targeted tank, which has a capacity of 500,000 barrels, held diesel fuel, according to a recent report by a U.N. panel of experts examining Yemen’s war. Repairing it after the last attack cost Aramco some $1.5 million.

The U.N. experts described the facility as a “civilian target,” which the Houthis ought to have prevented after the 2020 assault.

“While the facility also supplies the Saudi military with petroleum products, it is mostly supplying civilian customers,” the panel stated. “If the plant had been out of service of a significant period, the impact on the kingdom’s economy as well as on the welfare of the residents of the Western region would likely have been significant.”

Cruise missiles and drones stay tough to defend towards, although the U.S. just lately despatched a major variety of Patriot anti-missile interceptors to Saudi Arabia to resupply the dominion amid the Houthi assaults.

In September, the AP reported that the U.S. had eliminated its personal Patriot and THAAD protection programs from Prince Sultan Air Base outdoors of Riyadh.

The assaults have renewed questions concerning the kingdom’s skill to defend itself from Houthi fireplace as a yearslong conflict in the Arab world’s poorest nation rages on with no finish in sight. It additionally comes as Saudi Arabia issued an unusually stark warning that it’s unable to ensure its oil manufacturing gained’t be affected by additional assaults — which may push world power costs even larger amid Russia’s conflict on Ukraine.

Benchmark Brent crude costs briefly rose above $120 a barrel in buying and selling Friday. (AP)

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