Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih attends a session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, Russia May 25, 2018. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin/File Photo
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Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia said on Thursday it was "temporarily halting" all oil shipments through the strategic Red Sea shipping lane of Bab al-Mandeb after an attack on two big oil tankers by Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthi movement.Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said in a statement sent by his ministry that the Houthis had attacked two Saudi Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCCs) in the Red Sea on Wednesday morning, one of which sustained minimal damage.Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition has been battling the Houthis in a three-year war, lies beside the southern mouth of the Red Sea, one of the most important trade routes in the world for oil tankers.One of the coalition's main justifications for intervening in Yemen's war in 2015 was to protect shipping routes such as the Red Sea.The Houthis, who have also launched missile attacks on Saudi cities, including the capital Riyadh, have threatened to block the strait of Bab al-Mandeb several times to force the coalition to stop its air strikes.
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