White House says it will hold Houthis accountable for attack on Saudi Arabia
The White House on Thursday strongly condemned and vowed to hold accountable Yemen’s Houthi rebels for carrying out a terrorist attack targeting an airport in Saudi Arabia that injured at least a dozen civilians.
“We will work with our Saudi and international partners to hold them accountable,” White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said in a statement.
“As the President told His Majesty King Salman yesterday, we are committed to supporting Saudi Arabia in the defense of its people and territory from these attacks. America will have the backs of our friends in the region.”
Saudi air defenses reportedly intercepted an explosive-laden drone sent by the Iranian-backed Houthis targeting the Abha International Airport in Saudi Arabia mid-day Thursday, with shrapnel injuring at least 12 people.
The attack is the latest salvo amid eight years of civil war against the internationally recognized Yemeni government in Aden and its backers, a coalition led by Saudi Arabia.
The Saudi-led coalition reportedly said in a statement that it was launching retaliatory attacks against the Houthis in Sanaa, Yemen’s northern capital, warning people in the city to stay away from civilian areas used for military purposes for at least 72 hours.
The Biden administration ended support for the Saudi-led coalition’s offensive operations in Yemen in February under pressure from Congress and human rights groups critical of Riyadh’s record of civilian casualties that have occurred amid the fighting.
But President Biden has stressed unity with Riyadh, saying the U.S. stands by the legitimate defensive needs of the Saudis. The president said in a press conference last month he is considering redesignating the Houthis an international terrorist organization amid an increase in attacks against Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Biden last year lifted the terrorist designation on the Houthis that was imposed by former President Trump shortly before he left office. United Nations officials, human rights groups and advocates pushed for lifting the terrorist designation, saying it hampered the delivery of critical assistance to civilians in the war-torn country.