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European powers warn that drones threaten stability on Arabian Peninsula

Britain, France and Germany on Thursday condemned a spate of attacks on Saudi Arabia claimed by Iran-aligned Houthis in Yemen, saying the proliferation of drones posed a serious threat to regional stability.

Yemen's Houthi rebels used drones to attack Abha International Airport in Saudia Arabia Wednesday

In this image from video, Saudi state television shows an airplane damaged in a drone attack by Yemen's Houthi rebels at Abha International Airport in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday. (Saudi state television/The Associated Press)

Britain, France and Germany on Thursday condemned a spate of attacks on Saudi Arabia claimed by Iran-aligned Houthis in Yemen, saying the proliferation of drones posed a serious threat to regional stability.

Saudi Arabia told the United Nations Security Council on Thursday that an attack on Wednesday on Abha International Airport caused a fire on a civilian plane, describing it as a "heinous war crime."

"Such acts of terrorism by the Houthis continue to jeopardize the efforts of United Nations to reach a comprehensive political solution in Yemen," Saudi UN Ambassador Abdallah Al-Mouallimi wrote in a letter, calling on the 15-member body to condemn the attack.

Yemen's Houthi group said it had carried out a drone attack on the airport.

The attack threatened to escalate Yemen's grinding war. No one was hurt in the assault, The Associated Press reported.

Houthi military spokesperson Yehia Sarea stressed that the Houthis consider Abha airport to be a military, not civilian, target. 

"This targeting comes in response to the continued aerial bombardment and the brutal siege of our country," Sarea said, adding the group attacked with four bomb-laden drones. 

Houthi supporters chant slogans at a demonstration in Sanaa, Yemen, late last month. (Hani Mohammed/The Associated Press)

Saudi coalition condemns attack

Col. Turki al-Maliki, the spokesperson for the Saudi-led military coalition fighting in Yemen, said forces earlier intercepted and destroyed two drones launched by Houthis toward the country's south.

He condemned the assault as a "systematic and deliberate attempt to target civilians." 

Photographs later aired by Saudi state television showed the aircraft, a three-year-old Airbus A320 flown by low-cost carrier FlyADeal.

It appeared the drone had punched a hole through its fuselage, with scorch marks on the metal. FlyADeal did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

A Saudi-led military coalition intervened in Yemen in 2015, backing government forces fighting the Iran-aligned Houthis.

The more than six-year-long conflict is widely seen as a proxy conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

With files from The Associated Press

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