Yemen‘s Houthi rebels said they targeted the airport in the Saudi Arabian city of Najran – the third attempt to hit the facility in a week.
The group’s Al Masirah TV reported the drone attack on Thursday came as the Houthis said they would step up their offensive against Saudi targets.
The Saudi-Emirati-led coalition fighting the armed group said the drone was intercepted by the kingdom’s air defences.
“An explosive-laden drone sent by the terrorist Houthi militia to target Najran airport” was intercepted and destroyed by the Saudi air force, coalition spokesman Colonel Turki al-Maliki was quoted by state media as saying.
Maliki said “the rebels attacked a civilian airport” and warned of a “response”.
However, the attack targeted a Patriot missile air defence system, Al Masirah TV said.
An armed drone sent on Tuesday hit a weapons depot at the same airport, setting off a blaze, according to Al Masirah.
The conflict that began in late 2014 has killed tens of thousands of people, many of them civilians, relief agencies say. About 24.1 million – more than two-thirds of the population – are in need of aid.
Najran, 840km southwest of Riyadh, lies on the Saudi-Yemen border and has repeatedly been targeted by the Houthis.
On Tuesday, Al Masirah reported the Yemeni group launched a bomb-laden drone to hit what it described as an “arms depot” at the Najran airport.
The rebels also claimed responsibility for last week’s drone attacks on oil assets in Saudi Arabia. On Sunday said they would attack 300 vital military targets in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.
The latest hostilities coincide with rising tensions between Iran and Gulf Arab states allied to the United States and come just as a sensitive, UN-sponsored peace deal is being carried out in Yemen’s main port of Hodeidah, a lifeline for millions.
Al Jazeera and news agencies