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Yemen launches retaliatory drone strike on airbase in southern Saudi Arabia

This file picture shows a view of the entrance to the King Khalid Air Base near the southwestern Saudi city of Khamis Mushait, located some 884 kilometers south of the capital Riyadh. (Photo via Twitter)

Yemen's army troops and their allies have carried out a fresh drone strike on a major airbase in Saudi Arabia’s southwestern province of Asir in retaliation for the ongoing military aggression and blockade against the country.

They hit sensitive targets inside the King Khalid Airbase near the Saudi city of Khamis Mushait in the early hours of Sunday, Armed Forces spokesman Brigadier General Yahya Saree tweeted. 

Yemen's Arabic-language al-Masirah television network quoted Saree as saying that the retaliatory attack was launched by a domestically-manufactured Qasef-2K (Striker-2K) combat drone.

The strike was “accurate,” and came in response to the continuing aggression and brutal siege on Yemen, he said.

The King Khalid Airbase was last targeted on May 31 in a retaliatory drone attack.

The fresh strike came after Saudi warplanes bombed al-Mahashemah area in the Khabb wa ash Sha'af district of Yemen’s northern province of al-Jawf on Saturday evening.

Saudi military aircraft also attacked the Sirwah district in the strategic Yemeni province of Ma’rib on nine occasions.

In the city of Ma'rib, at least 12 people were killed in an explosion near a petrol station.

A medical source told Reuters news agency that dozens of people, many of them badly burned, had been taken to Ma’rib General Hospital and 12 of them had died of their injuries.

“The rest are receiving treatment and we expect the number of victims to rise,” the source added.

Omani mediators in Sana’a  

Separately, a group of Omani officials arrived in Sana’a on Saturday to discuss a ceasefire with senior members of Yemen’s popular Ansarullah movement.

“An Omani delegation arrived (in Sana’a), accompanied by Ansarullah spokesman Mohammed Abdul-Salam – who is also the head of the Yemeni National Salvation Government’s negotiation team, and other officials,” a Yemeni source told AFP. 

The source said the delegation was to meet with Ansarullah leader Abdul-Malik al-Houthi and update him on talks held in Muscat.

Abdul-Salam, in remarks carried by al-Masirah television network, later said, “We are working to advance arrangements on the humanitarian question as well as the peace process.”

The visit aims to “complement efforts” made in Oman, he added.

Oman has hosted the United Nations Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths and US Special Envoy for Yemen Tim Lenderking in recent weeks.

On Monday, Griffiths urged rival Yemeni forces to “bridge the gap” to reach a ceasefire.

“There's an extraordinary amount of diplomatic consensus... there is a real diplomatic energy now, which hasn't always been the case,” he said.

Saudi Arabia, backed by the US and regional allies, launched a devastating war on Yemen in March 2015, with the goal of bringing the government of former Yemeni president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi back to power and crushing Ansarullah. 

Yemeni armed forces and allied Popular Committees have, however, gone from strength to strength against the Saudi-led invaders, and left Riyadh and its allies bogged down in the country.

The Saudi war has left hundreds of thousands of Yemenis dead, and displaced millions more. The war has also destroyed Yemen's infrastructure and spread famine and infectious diseases across the country.

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