On Tuesday, September 17, the United States Department of State updated its Saudi Arabia travel advisory, advising its citizens to exercise increased caution in the country "due to terrorism and the threat of missile and drone attacks on civilian targets." This advisory comes in the wake of a Houthi-claimed drone attack on major oil facilities in Saudi Arabia on Saturday, September 14.
The US State Department also advises against all travel within 50 miles of the Saudi-Yemen border due to the threat of terrorism and risk of spillover from the ongoing armed conflict in Yemen. The US government has limited ability to assist US citizens in case of emergency within 50 miles of the Saudi-Yemen border and in the city of Qatif in the Eastern Province.
Houthi rebels have claimed several missile attacks targeting Saudi facilities and infrastructure since late May 2019. The group has targeted airports in Abha, Jizan, and Najran. A Houthi-claimed missile attack wounded 26 people at the arrivals hall at Abha International Airport (AHB) on June 12. On September 14, Houthi rebels allegedly launched drone attacks on major oil facilities in Buqayq (Eastern Province) and at the Khurais oil field, causing fires and significant damage. Saudi officials claimed the weapons used in the attacks were made in Iran, amid heightened tensions between the regional rivals.
Yemen is engaged in a complex and deadly conflict, ongoing since Houthi rebels entered into a civil war with the Yemeni government, supported by a Saudi-led coalition, in 2015. The Saudi-led coalition has carried out thousands of airstrikes in Yemen since its intervention began. Hundreds of Yemeni civilians have been killed in the strikes, which have hit schools, hospitals, and markets, in addition to Houthi militant positions and personnel. In total, more than 10,000 Yemenis have died in the fighting and some 3 million have been displaced.
Due to the threat from terrorists and regional hostile actors throughout the country, individuals are advised to maintain a high degree of vigilance, to report any suspicious objects or behavior to the relevant authorities, and to be particularly cautious when visiting sites deemed likely to be targeted in an attack (transportation hubs, government buildings, embassies or consulates, energy and military facilities, critical infrastructure, religious sites, markets, locations frequented by foreigners/Westerners, etc.). In the event of a missile attack, individuals should seek shelter indoors immediately, remain as far away from windows as possible, and not touch any debris on the ground, which could be very corrosive.
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