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Yemen's Houthis say they launched drone attack on Saudi Arabia's Jizan airport

Saudi-led coalition says it intercepted and downed a Houthi craft heading towards civilian targets in kingdom's southwest
A man at the Al-Kharj Saudi military base displays what Saudi Arabia says is a Houthi projectile and a drone launched at the kingdom earlier this year (Reuters - File pic)

Yemen's rebel Houthi movement said it launched a drone attack on Jizan airport in southwestern Saudi Arabia early on Wednesday, part of an escalation of cross-border assaults in the four-year-old conflict.

The Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthis said it had intercepted and downed a Houthi drone heading towards civilian targets in Jizan.

Houthi military spokesman Yahya Saria said the attack disrupted operations at the airport.

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The Houthis, who control the capital Sanaa, have in the past few months stepped up their attacks against targets in Saudi Arabia. 

In response, the coalition has targeted military sites belonging to the group, especially around Sanaa.

On Tuesday, the Saudi-led coalition said it had intercepted and downed three Houthi drones launched towards the Saudi cities of Jizan and Abha near the Yemeni border.

Saria said that Tuesday's drone attack had targeted the King Khalid air base near the southwestern Saudi city of Khamis Mushait.

UAE withdrawal

The escalation in violence threatens a UN-sponsored deal for a ceasefire and troop withdrawal from the flashpoint coastal city of Hodeidah, which became the focus of the war last year when the coalition tried to seize its port.

Hodeidah is the Houthis' main supply line and a lifeline for millions of Yemenis.

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On Monday, the United Nations said the warring parties had agreed new measures to enforce the ceasefire and facilitate a troop pullback from Hodeidah.

The western-backed coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) intervened in Yemen in 2015 to try to restore the internationally recognised Yemeni government that was ousted from power in Sanaa by the Houthis in late 2014.

The UAE said earlier this month it was winding down its involvement in Yemen as it pledged to reduce troop numbers in the war-torn country.

The announcement came as a spokesperson in Abu Dhabi told reporters that the country was shifting from a "military-first strategy" to a "peace-first strategy".

The Yemen conflict has killed tens of thousands of people and triggered a humanitarian crisis that has left millions of people on the brink of starvation.