The Arab League has said the Houthi rebels should be designated "as a terrorist organisation" after a recent drone and missile attack struck an oil facility and airport in Abu Dhabi.

The Arab League called the recent strikes by Houthi rebels in UAE
The Arab League called the recent strikes by Houthi rebels in UAE "a flagrant violation of international law." (AFP)

The Arab League has said Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi rebels should be labelled as a "terrorist" group after they attacked the United Arab Emirates.

In a statement following an extraordinary meeting on Sunday, it called the recent strikes "a flagrant violation of international law... and a real threat to vital civilian installations, energy supplies, and global economic stability."

On January 17, the Houthis claimed a drone and missile attack that struck an oil facility and the airport in the UAE capital Abu Dhabi, killing three people and wounding six.

It was the first deadly assault acknowledged by the UAE inside its borders and claimed by the Yemeni insurgents during a seven-year Saudi-led coalition campaign against the rebels.

The pan-Arab bloc, based in the Egyptian capital, said the Houthis should be designated "as a terrorist organisation" after the attack.

Former US president Donald Trump designated the Houthis as a terrorist movement but the administration of President Joe Biden removed the group in response to concerns from aid groups.

Biden's administration has, however, sanctioned individual Houthi figures.

READ MORE: Houthis used 'cruise and ballistic missiles' in deadly Abu Dhabi attack

UN condemns Houthi strikes

On Friday, the UN Security Council unanimously condemned the Houthi strikes on the UAE, whose UN ambassador denounced them as "terrorist attacks."

The Emirates have had a major role in the Saudi-led coalition defending the internationally-recognised government of Yemen against the Houthis.

Although it announced a troop withdrawal from Yemen in 2019, the UAE has remained involved by supporting and training forces there.

On Saturday the coalition denied carrying out an air strike on a prison in Yemen's rebel-held north that aid groups said killed at least 70 people, including migrants, women and children.

The UN has estimated Yemen's conflict would have killed 377,000 people by the end of 2021, both directly and indirectly through hunger and disease.

READ MORE: UAE vows reprisals as Houthis claim deadly attack in Abu Dhabi

Source: AFP