A spokesman for the Houthi movement says the group carried out drone attacks targeting positions in the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh, amid diplomatic efforts to reach a ceasefire in war-torn Yemen.
There was no confirmation from the Saudi authorities to Thursday’s claim but in recent weeks the Houthis, who have been battling a six-year Saudi-led military offensive in Yemen, have launched numerous missile and drone attacks targeting Saudi oil installations, airports and military sites.
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Meanwhile, the Saudi-led military coalition said it destroyed a Houthi ballistic missile on its launchpad in Yemen, Saudi state TV reported, adding that the weapon was being prepared for launch towards the gas-rich Yemeni province of Marib. The Houthis did not immediately confirm the claim.
The Houthis have rejected a ceasefire proposal made last month by Riyadh because it did not include the lifting of an air and sea blockade imposed by a Saudi-led military coalition on the territories controlled by the rebels.
The conflict, seen in the region as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, has caused what the United Nations says is the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
Last month, the coalition – which intervened militarily in 2015, months after the Houthis captured large parts of northern Yemen including Sanaa – said it struck a missile and drone assembly plant in the Yemeni capital.
The United Nations said air raids also hit the Houthi-controlled Salif grains port, north of Hodeidah, and two projectiles hit a warehouse and the living quarters of a food production company.
The latest escalation last month came amid renewed diplomatic efforts by the United States and the United Nations to reach a ceasefire that would pave the way for a resumption of UN-sponsored political talks to end the conflict in Yemen.
The Houthis have defended the cross-border attacks, saying they are in response to six years of a devastating military offensive in Yemen by a Saudi-led coalition.
The Saudi-led coalition aims to restore Yemen’s internationally recognised government, to stem what it perceives as Iran’s growing influence in the region.
Rights groups and international observers have criticised the Saudi-led war that has killed tens of thousands of people, displaced millions and pushed the Middle East’s poorest nation towards an unprecedented humanitarian crisis.