Photo Credit: US State Department
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken

On Friday, Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi terrorist group bragged in a tweet that they bombed a Saudi airport and scored a direct hit on a civilian airplane, after Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed in a statement that the United States will formally remove the group from the list of Foreign Terror Organizations (FTO) next week.

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“The Air Force managed, thanks to God, to target sensitive military sites at Abha International Airport and King Khalid Base in Khamis Mushait, with three Qasef 2K drones, and the hit was accurate,” Houthi official Abdullah Badha wrote in a tweet.

Bahnan wrote in a follow up tweet on Saturday that the group had also carried out a second strike on the same airport, adding there was a successful hit on another airplane.

“In response to the aggression’s raids and its military escalation and its continuous siege on our Yemeni people, the Air Force carried out an attack today, Saturday afternoon, on an important target at Abha International Airport with a Sammad 3 plane, and the injury was accurate, thanks to God.”

The attacks came in the wake of Blinken’s announcement that America will officially remove the Houthis from its Foreign Terrorist Organization list, and revoke the group’s label as a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist Entity.”

“This decision is a recognition of the dire humanitarian situation in Yemen,” Blinken said in the statement released to media on Friday.

“We have listened to warnings from the United Nations, humanitarian groups, and bipartisan members of Congress, among others, that the designations could have a devastating impact on Yemenis’ access to basic commodities like food and fuel,” the statement said.

“The revocations are intended to ensure that relevant US policies do not impede assistance to those already suffering what has been called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. By focusing on alleviating the humanitarian situation in Yemen, we hope the Yemeni parties can also focus on engaging in dialogue.”

Three individual Houthi leaders — Abdul Malik al-Houthi, Abd al-Khaliq Badr al-Din al-Houthi and Abdullah Yahya al-Hakim — are to remain under sanction in relation to “acts that threaten the peace, security or stability of Yemen.”

The decision, which takes effect February 16, reverses the policy of the Trump administration, which made the designation of the Ansar Allah (the formal name of the Houthis) shortly before the end of term.

Blinken’s statement adds that the US will continue to closely monitor the terror group’s activities and is “actively identifying” new sanctions targets. Among those in the crosshairs are those who are responsible for missile and drone strikes on neighboring Saudi Arabia and attacks on commercial shipping in the Red Sea.

Last week President Joe Biden also announced the US would end its support for Saudi-led coalition operations and named US diplomat Timothy Lenderking as special envoy for Yemen.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.