An oil refinery operated by Saudi Arabia’s Aramco is seen on this AFP file photograph.

RIYADH: A drone strike sparked a hearth at a Riyadh oil refinery Friday, in an assault claimed by Yemen’s Houthi rebels because the Iran-backed insurgents made main advances on the embattled Yemeni metropolis of Marib.

The assault at daybreak on the refinery is the second main assault this month on Saudi vitality installations, highlighting a harmful escalation of Yemen’s six-year battle between the Saudi-backed Yemeni authorities and the Iran-linked Houthis.

“The Riyadh oil refinery was attacked by drones, leading to a hearth that has been introduced underneath management,” the Saudi vitality ministry stated in a press release, including that no casualties had been reported and oil provides weren’t disrupted.

Strongly condemning the “cowardly assault”, the ministry stated the drone strikes weren’t simply an assault on the dominion however the world financial system and international vitality safety.

In a press release, the Houthi rebels claimed to have focused vitality big Aramco in Riyadh on Friday with six drones in response to the “brutal aggression” of the Saudi-backed army coalition in Yemen.

The rebels are stepping up cross-border assaults on the dominion regardless of a renewed push by the US administration of President Joe Biden to revive stalled peace talks.

The most recent assault comes after Saudi Arabia earlier this month stated it thwarted a missile and drone assault on Ras Tanura — one of many world’s greatest oil ports — and Aramco amenities in Dhahran metropolis within the kingdom’s east. It reported no casualties or harm.

Friday´s assault coincides with main Houthi advances on Marib metropolis after the rebels took a strategic mountain in clashes that brought about dozens of casualties on either side, in response to Yemeni authorities sources.

The Houthis “took management of Mount Hilan overlooking the town, after preventing which left dozens of useless and wounded on either side,” one of many sources instructed AFP.

“Marib is at risk,” one other supply stated, including the lack of the mountain posed “a menace to Marib´s first line of defence”.

Intense battle

Since final month, the rebels have been pushing to grab Marib, the federal government’s final northern stronghold and the capital of an oil-rich area.

The lack of Marib could be an enormous blow for the Yemeni authorities, however would additionally threaten disaster for civilians, together with at the very least a million displaced folks sheltering within the area, many in desolate camps within the surrounding desert.

The Huthis had “minimize the availability traces of some fronts and at the moment are inside firing vary of the Al-Mashjab line west of Marib metropolis,” the second supply added.

Regardless of the advance, analysts say the town might not fall to the rebels any time quickly, given the overwhelming firepower of the Saudi-led coalition which backs the beleaguered authorities.

“An imminent fall of Marib stays unlikely,” Maged al-Madhaji of the Sanaa Heart assume tank instructed AFP, including that this was nonetheless “an essential advance that places further strain” on authorities forces.

The Saudi-led coalition intervened within the battle in 2015, implementing a naval and air blockade to forestall the smuggling of weapons to the rebels from Iran — allegations Tehran denies.

The rebels say any ceasefire settlement can solely start after the Saudi-led blockade of Yemen is lifted.

‘Grave danger’

The information of their advance got here simply hours after the United Nations Safety Council condemned the “escalation” of armed clashes round Marib metropolis and warned of a worsening humanitarian disaster.

The preventing “locations a million internally displaced individuals at grave danger and threatens efforts to safe a political settlement when the worldwide group is more and more united to finish the battle,” it stated.

It “careworn the necessity for de-escalation by all, together with a right away finish to the Houthi escalation in Marib (and) condemned using baby troopers in Marib.”

Life within the metropolis retains a veneer of normality regardless of the battle that rages exterior, however there’s a sense of dread because the preventing attracts nearer.

“We condemn what is occurring to the town of Marib. Our kids are terrified,” one resident, Umm Ali, instructed AFP.

One other resident, Mohammed Yahya, stated the town would “stay steadfast”.

“That is what historical past instructed us — that, all through the ages, Marib has been the thorn that breaks down any enemy that wishes any hurt to Yemen,” he stated.

Tens of hundreds of individuals, largely civilians, have been killed and hundreds of thousands displaced in Yemen´s lengthy struggle, which has crippled the financial system and healthcare system.

The UN has declared Yemen the world’s worst humanitarian disaster.

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