Yemen rebel missile shot down 200km from Saudi capital

Houthi fighters fire a ballistic missile at the Saudi capital a day before US President Donald Trump arrives.

Tribesmen loyal to Houthi rebels hold their weapons in Sanaa in 2016
Tribesmen loyal to Houthi rebels hold their weapons as they chant slogans in this 2016 file photo [Hani Mohammed/AP]

Yemen’s Houthi rebels fired a ballistic missile towards the Saudi capital Riyadh and the Arab coalition waging war in the country said it intercepted and destroyed a projectile about 200km west of the city. 

The incident on Friday occurred a day before US President Donald Trump was expected in Riyadh at the start of his first foreign trip since taking office in January.

The Iran-allied Houthis launched a Burkan-1 missile toward Riyadh, a statement by their official news agency said.

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The Saudi-led coalition said later it downed a Houthi missile in the southern Saudi province of Ar Rayn, well to the west of Riyadh. The area is open desert and there were no casualties, the official Saudi news agency SPA said.

Saudi Arabia has deployed Patriot missiles to counter such attacks. 

Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya TV said the Arab coalition that intervened in Yemen’s civil war against the Houthis in 2015 were “massively” bombing a missile base outside the Yemeni capital Sanaa, which is controlled by the Houthis.    

The missile would be the longest range attempted by the Houthi rebels and their allies – former members of Yemen’s security forces linked to ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh – since they began retaliatory attacks against the kingdom two years ago. 

Trump, whose country provides weapons, intelligence and aerial refuelling for the Arab coalition, is due to arrive on Saturday for two days of talks with Saudi, Gulf, and Muslim leaders.   

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Riyadh and Washington accuse Iran of supplying weapons to the Houthis, but a United Nations Panel of Experts in January reported that it “has not seen sufficient evidence to confirm any direct large-scale supply of arms” from Iran, Riyadh’s regional rival.    

In October the rebels launched one of their longest-range strikes against Saudi Arabia, firing a ballistic missile that was brought down near the holy Muslim city of Mecca, an attack condemned by Riyadh’s Gulf allies.    

The rebels insisted the missile had been fired at Jeddah, the Red Sea city in the sprawling Mecca region, not at the holy city itself.

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Source: News Agencies