Saudi Arabia says Houthi drone used in Abha airport attack a replica of Iranian UAV

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Saudi Arabia said on Wednesday the drone used in the Abha airport attack claimed by Yemen's Houthis was a replica of the Iranian Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), "Ababil T".

The Arab Coalition said on Wednesday a drone targeted Abha international airport, and a plane which was on the ground at the time cought on fire. Yemen's Houthi militia claimed the attack.

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"Remnants of the wreckage show that the explosive drone is of the Qasef type, which is a replica of the Iranian UAV, Ababil T," the Saudi embassy in the US said.

Iran has long exported its drone technology to its regional Shia ally, the Houthis. Tehran denies having any role in the Yemeni conflict.

The "Qasef" drone is a combative Houthi drone which the UK-based Conflict Armament Research (CAR) organization has documented contained components manufactured exclusively by Iran.

"[Qasef-1] is not of indigenous design and construction, but rather manufactured in Iran and supplied in batches to Houthi forces in Yemen,” CAR said in a report last year.

Nic Jenzen-Jones, a military arms specialist and director of Armament Research Services, which has tracked Iranian equipment ending up in Yemen, had previously told Reuters: "Recent transfers of arms and munitions have also included Iranian Ababil series UAVs (drones), fitted with high explosive warheads and used by Houthis to engage high-value targets, such as radar and Patriot missile batteries."

The Arab Coalition has reported in recent weeks increased aerial attacks launched by Houthis in Yemen towards civilian areas in the Kingdom, using remote-operated, explosive-laden drones.

Cross-border attacks by Iran-aligned Houthi forces have escalated since late May, when a truce prompted by the coronavirus pandemic expired. In late June, missiles reached the Saudi capital Riyadh.

- With Reuters

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