Yemen’s Houthi rebels said they carried out drone attacks in Saudi Arabia that halted the pumping of crude oil along a major pipeline in response to the kingdom’s “crimes” in Yemen.
“The targeting of Saudi vital installations is a response to the aggressors continuing to commit genocide crimes and impose a siege on the Yemeni people,” Houthi spokesperson Mohammed Abdel-Salam tweeted on Tuesday, May 14.
Saudi Arabia earlier said it had stopped pumping crude oil along a major pipeline following a drone attack, hours after the Houthis first said they had targeted vital Saudi installations.
Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said two pumping stations on the pipeline from the oil-rich Eastern Province to the Red Sea had been targeted early Tuesday.
The vital pipeline has a capacity of at least five million barrels per day.
“Saudi Aramco took precautionary measures and temporarily stopped operation of the pipeline, as it is evaluating the situation and working on restoring the operations of the affected pump station and the pipeline,” Falih said in a statement cited by state news agency SPA.
The 1,200-km (750-mile) pipeline carries crude from Saudi Arabia’s main eastern oil fields to the Red Sea port city of Yanbu in the west.
It was created several decades ago as an alternative for Saudi crude exports if the strategically vital Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Gulf were to be closed.
The reported pipeline attacks came amid spiraling tensions in the Gulf, following a series of alleged attacks on ships off the coast of the United Arab Emirates and a major U.S. military deployment to the region.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE intervened in 2015 to support the Yemeni government against Houthi rebels, which are backed by Iran, in a war that has left around 10,000 people dead and pushed millions to the brink of starvation.
The United Nations calls the situation in Yemen the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
With reporting from AFP