Yemen's Huthis claim attack on Saudi oil facilities

After a lull in hostilities in recent months on many fronts, violence in Yemen has escalated, with Huthi rebels resuming their attacks on Saudi Arabia.

ADEN - Yemen's Iran-backed Huthi movement said on Wednesday it had carried out operations targeting facilities belonging to Saudi Aramco in Jizan on the Red Sea.

Few details were given of the precise nature and timing of the attacks, and there was no immediate confirmation from the Saudi authorities of any strikes.

In comments reported by Houthi-run Al Masirah TV, Houthi military spokesman Yahya Saria said more than 15 "operations" had been carried out in the past week inside Saudi Arabia in retaliation for an escalation in air strikes.

Saudi Aramco facilities in Jizan on the Red Sea were targeted, along with other targets near the border with Yemen, including Abha and Jizan airports and Khamis Mushait military base, "with a large number of rockets and drones", he said in a separate statement.

State oil giant Aramco declined to comment on the report.

The Huthis have been battling a Saudi-led military coalition for nearly five years. If confirmed, the attacks would be the first by the Huthis on Saudi Arabia since late September, when the group said it would halt its repeated missile and drone attacks on the country if the coalition ended air strikes on Yemen.

Oil prices were higher after the reports. Brent futures were up 70 cents, or 1.18%, at $60.21 a barrel at 1348 GMT and US WTI was up 47 cents, or 0.88%, at $53.95 a barrel.

The Huthis had extended their offer to halt strikes on Saudi targets last year after claiming responsibility for a Sept. 14 attack on Saudi oil facilities that initially halved the kingdom's output.

Riyadh rejected the Huthi claim of responsibility for that attack and instead blamed Iran, which denied it. A UN investigation has since lent credence to Riyadh's claims, finding that the Huthis did not carry out that missile strike.

After a lull in hostilities in recent months on many fronts, violence has escalated at a frontline east of Yemen's Huthi-held capital Sanaa, since a Jan. 19 Huthi missile attack on a government military camp which killed more than 100 people.

United Nations Yemen envoy Martin Griffiths in the past week condemned the uptick in troop movements, air strikes, and missile and drone attacks, saying they jeopardise progress being made on de-escalation and confidence building.

Yemen has been mired in almost five years of conflict since the Huthi movement ousted the government of President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi from the capital in late 2014. The Saudi-led military coalition intervened in 2015 in a bid to restore him.

The United Nations has been trying to re-launch political negotiations to end the war and, separately, Riyadh has been holding informal talks with the Huthis since late September about de-escalation.