Timeline: Houthis’ drone and missile attacks on Saudi targets

Houthis step up attacks on Saudi sites in what they call retaliation for Saudi-led bombing of Yemen’s rebel-held areas.

Houthi drone
Yemen's Houthi rebels have recently started using drones in their attacks on Saudi Arabia [Stepane Kalin/AP]

For more than four years, Yemen has been ravaged by a war between the Houthi rebels and the internationally-recognised government backed by a military coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The conflict has killed tens of thousands of people, thrust millions to the brink of famine and spawned the world’s most devastating humanitarian crisis.

With logistical support from the United States, the Saudi-UAE-led coalition has carried out more than 18,000 raids on Houthi-held areas in an attempt to reverse their gains. Human rights groups have criticised the alliance for targeting civilians at hospitals, schools and markets, while also condemning Western countries for providing it with arms.

The Houthi rebels, on their part, have in recent months stepped up missile and drone attacks on Saudi targets.

On Saturday, they claimed responsibility for drone attacks on two major oil facilities run by state oil giant Saudi Aramco, and promised to widen the range of their targets.

Here is a timeline of recent attacks on Saudi targets claimed by Houthis, or blamed on them.

January 5, 2018: Saudi state-owned media says the kingdom’s defence forces intercepted a Houthi missile over the Najran province, on the southern border with Yemen, before it could hit its intended target.

The rebel group claims responsibility for the attack, saying on Twitter it had a “successful launch of a short range ballistic missile at a military target in Saudi Arabia”.


March 31, 2018: Saudi Arabia says it intercepted a missile fired by the Houthis targeting the southern city of Najran.

June 24, 2018: Saudi Arabia says its air defence forces intercepted and destroyed two Houthi ballistic missiles over Riyadh.

At least six loud explosions were heard and bright flashes were seen in the sky over the capital, reports say.

The Houthi-run Al Masirah TV says Burkan missiles were fired at the Saudi Ministry of Defence and other targets.

Tanker targeted

July 25, 2018: Houthi rebels attack a Saudi oil tanker in the Red Sea, causing slight damage, according to the Saudi-UAE-led coalition.

A statement by the coalition says the tanker was attacked in the west of Yemen’s Hodeidah port but does not name the vessel or describe how it was attacked.

The Houthis’ Al Masirah TV reports that the group targeted The Dammam warship off the western coast of Yemen.

August 9, 2018: Saudi Arabia intercepts two missiles fired by the Houthis at its southern Jizan province, the official Saudi Press Agency quotes a military spokesman as saying.

Al Masirah TV says the Houthis fired a number of ballistic missiles at Saudi Arabia, targeting the border provinces of Jizan and Aseer.

April 3, 2019: Coalition says it intercepted two drones launched by the Houthis towards the city of Khamis Mushait.


Spokesman Colonel Turki al-Maliki said debris caused by the interception of the two drones wounded five civilians in the city.

May 14, 2019: Saudi Arabia says armed drones struck two of its oil-pumping stations west of Riyadh.

The Aramco East-West pipeline, stretching across the country to the port and oil terminal at Yanbu, was damaged in two places.

May 20, 2019: The Saudi military says it shot down two ballistic missiles reportedly heading towards the cities of Jeddah and Mecca.

The forces “monitored air targets flying over restricted areas in Jeddah and Taif province, and were dealt with accordingly,” al-Maliki says,

Saudi-owned Al Arabiya TV, citing witnesses, reports that air defence forces intercepted two ballistic missiles over Jeddah and Taif and says the first one was directed towards Mecca, without providing evidence.

The Houthis deny their missiles were targeting Mecca, a pilgrimage site some 70 kilometres (43.5 miles) from Jeddah and 50km (31 miles) from Taif. The group calls claim a tactic by Riyadh to rally support for its war.

Airport attacks

June 12, 2019: Houthi rebels fire a missile at Abha airport in southern Saudi Arabia, wounding 26 civilians in the building’s arrivals hall, according to the Saudi-UAE-led coalition.

The coalition says a projectile hit the arrivals hall at Abha airport, causing material damage. Three women and two children were among the wounded, it adds, noting that they were of Saudi, Yemeni and Indian nationalities.

June 17, 2019: Houthi rebels launch a drone attack targeting Abha airport, the group’s Al Masirah TV says. There is no immediate Saudi confirmation of the attack.

June 20, 2019: The rebels hit a power station in Jizan province with a “cruise missile”, Al Masirah TV says.

The coalition confirms Houthi forces fired a “projectile” at a desalination plant in al-Shuqaiq city but says no one was wounded and there was no damage caused to the facility.


July 2, 2019: A new Houthi attack on Abha airport wounds nine civilians, the coalition says.

“The terrorist attack on Abha airport … led to the injury of nine civilians, including eight Saudi citizens and one carrying an Indian passport,” the military coalition said in a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency.

The Houthis say they “launched a wide operation aimed at warplanes at Abha international airport” with drones, according to Al Masirah TV.

August 1, 2019: Houthi rebels say they fired a long-range missile at the port city of Dammam in Saudi Arabia, hundreds of kilometres away from Yemen.

August 5, 2019: Houthi forces launch drone attacks on Saudi Arabia’s King Khalid Airbase and Abha and Najran airports, according to a spokesman for the group.

The spokesman says the attack on Abha airport “hit its targets” and air traffic was disrupted at both Abha and Najran.

However, the coalition says the drones were intercepted and downed.

Gas fields targeted

August 17, 2019: A drone attack claimed by the Houthis sparks a fire in a remote oil and gas field in eastern Saudi Arabia.

A Houthi military spokesman says the group targeted the Shaybah oilfield with 10 drones, calling it the “biggest attack in the depths” of the kingdom.

Saudi Aramco says the attack caused no casualties or disruption to production.

August 25, 2019: The Houthis say they fired 10 Badr-1 ballistic missiles at Jizan airport, killing and wounding dozens.


The coalition says it intercepted and destroyed at least six ballistic missiles fired by the group targeting civilians in Jizan, in the southwest of the kingdom. It gives no details about casualties or damage.

August 26, 2019: Houthi rebels claim to have attacked a military target in Riyadh.

According to a spokesman for the rebels, the attack was carried out with an armed drone.

Saudi Arabia denies there was an attack by the Houthis.

September 10, 2019: The coalition forces intercept a drone over Yemen’s Saada province, Saudi Press Agency reports.

September 14, 2019: Drone attacks claimed by the Houthis cause fires at two major oil facilities run by Saudi Aramco.

Citing an spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, the official Saudi Press Agency says the blazes at the facilities in Abqaiq – home to the company’s largest oil processing plant – and Khurais were under control.

Source: Al Jazeera