In a large-scale operation, ten suicide unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) of the Houthis attacked early on September 14 two strategic oil facilities in the eastern Saudi areas of Buqayq and Khurais.
In an official statement, a spokesman for the Yemeni group said that the attack, dubbed Operation Deterrent Balance 2, was a response to the Saudi-led coalition siege and airstrikes on Yemen.
“Operation Deterrent Balance 2 came after a careful intelligence operation and prior monitoring and cooperation from honorable and free people within Saudi Arabia,” Brig. Gen. Yahya Sari said in the statement, warning that “future operations will expand further and be more painful.”
Buqayq and Khurais facilities, both run by Saudi Aramco, are located more than 1,100km away from Houthi-held areas in northwestern Yemen. The Yemeni group likely used its long-range Samad-3 UAVs in the attack.
Saudi Ministry of Interior acknowledged the attack in a statement, claiming that firefighter were able to put down fires caused by the suicide UAVs.
“Thank God, the two fires [in Buqayq and Khurais] were brought under control … The authorities have initiated an investigation,” the statement reads.
Several satellite images confirmed that the Houthis’ attack caused several large fires in Buqayq and Khurais facilities.
Working with @Obs_IL checking image sources as they arrive, one from @NASA shows the #Aramco strike area in #Saudi along with possible pressure relief flares in other refineries due to emergency shutdowns, more images will help asses the origin of these flares soon pic.twitter.com/MXKMExiQhq
— d-atis☠️ (@detresfa_) September 14, 2019
— TankerTrackers.com, Inc.⚓️🛢 (@TankerTrackers) September 14, 2019
Last month, the Houthis targeted the Shaybah super-giant oil field in southeastern Saudi Arabia in what was called Operation Deterrent Balance 1. The oil field was struck, but the damage was very limited.
These attacks demonstrate the Houthis’ ability to strike any strategic target anywhere inside Saudi Arabia. Facing this growing threat, the oil rich Kingdom may opt to de-escalate its war on Yemen, similar to what the UAE have done.