Yemeni rebel attacks sparked a huge fire in a Saudi Arabian oil company during the Formula One Grand Prix

Red Bull world champion Max Verstappen said he could smell the flames while driving. The Houthis, backed by Iran, claimed a total of 16 attacks against various targets in the country for their participation in the international operation in Yemen

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A view of a fire at Saudi Aramco's petroleum storage facility, after an attack, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia March 25, 2022. REUTERS/Ahmed Yosri
A view of a fire at Saudi Aramco's petroleum storage facility, after an attack, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia March 25, 2022. REUTERS/Ahmed Yosri

Yemeni rebels claimed on Friday a series of drone and missile attacks in Saudi Arabia, which set off a huge fire at a facility at the Aramco oil company in Jedah, the country's second city.

“We carried out several drone and ballistic missile strikes,” including an “Aramco installation in Jedah (and) vital facilities in Riyadh,” Iranian-backed Houthi rebels said in a statement.

They also referred to the “deep offensive”, in retaliation for the Arab kingdom's participation in the international operation against the rebels.

The Saudi-led coalition, which fights the rebels, confirmed the attack, which occurred on the eve of the seventh anniversary of its military intervention in the brutal civil war in Yemen.

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A column of smoke can be seen during Formula One training in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed)

At the moment, no fatalities have been reported.

Previously, Saudi Arabia's air defense forces reported that its anti-missile shield had succeeded in destroying at least nine drones and one missile launched by the Huthi insurgency launched at the southern part of the country.

The missile targeted the southwestern locality of Najran, while drones targeted positions in the south, center and east of the country, according to the official Saudi news agency SPA.

In the videos shared on social networks, smoke rose near the F1 track in Jedá, where several drivers participated in free practice this Friday.

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Supporters of the Houthi rebels gather to show their support, in Sana'a, Yemen, in a file image (EFE/Yahya Arhab)

Red Bull world champion Max Verstappen said he could smell the flames while driving. “I can smell burning... is that my car?” , asked the Dutchman on the team's radio.

As a result of the attacks, the second round of free practice sessions of the Saudi Arabian Formula 1 Grand Prix, scheduled for tonight, were delayed. The session began at 20:15 local (17:15 GMT), a quarter of an hour later than planned.

Before the second round of free practice, the leaders of the teams met with the F1 skipper, Stefano Domenicali, to discuss the situation, the AFP noted.

The rebels claimed a total of 16 attacks on several targets, including a power station in Jizan, on the border with Yemen, which was set on fire.

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Formula One training in Saudi Arabia with smoke from a Houthi attack in the background (REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed/File Photo)

The Saudi-led coalition has been intervening in Yemen since 2015 to support the internationally recognized government, a year after rebels took over the capital, Sana'a.

On several occasions, Houthi rebels have attacked oil installations in a context where Western powers are pressuring oil-producing countries to increase production to contain oil prices, which have been escalating since Russia's invasion of Ukraine a month ago.

With information from AFP, EFE, EuropaPress

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