Saudi forces intercept three ballistic missiles, blame Houthis

Saudi-led coalition fighting Yemen’s Houthis say the rebels fired three ballistic missiles at cities in the kingdom’s east and south.

Authorities in Saudi Arabia say they have intercepted three ballistic missiles targeting the country’s oil-rich eastern region as well as the cities of Najran and Jazan in the south.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Saturday’s attacks, but the Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthis in Yemen blamed the Iran-aligned rebel group.

There were no reports of casualties.

A source familiar with the matter told the Reuters news agency that the missile aimed at the eastern region was intercepted over the city of Dammam.

Shrapnel from the missile scattered over the Dammam Suburb neighbourhood, injuring two Saudi children, while 14 homes suffered light damages, the official SPA news agency said, citing a statement by the defence ministry.

Earlier, the coalition also reported the interception of three explosive-laden drones headed towards Saudi Arabia.

The attacks come four days after a drone hit Abha International Airport in the south, wounding eight people and damaging a civilian plane.

Yemen’s Houthis regularly launch drones and missiles into the kingdom, including aerial attacks aimed at Saudi oil installations. An attack in September 2019 on two Saudi Aramco plants in the east temporarily knocked out half the country’s oil production.

A source familiar with the matter told Reuters there was no impact on facilities belonging to state-controlled oil giant Aramco on Saturday and that the attack happened outside of Aramco facilities.

“The Ministry of Defense will take the necessary and deterrent measures to protect its lands and capabilities, and stop such hostile and cross-border attacks to protect civilians, in accordance with international humanitarian law,” the ministry said in a statement according to SPA.

The Saudi-led military coalition intervened in Yemen in 2015, backing forces of the deposed government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi fighting the Houthis.

The grinding conflict has claimed tens of thousands of lives and displaced millions, resulting in what the United Nations calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

While the UN is pushing for an end to the war, the Houthis have demanded the reopening of Sanaa airport, closed under a Saudi blockade since 2016, before any ceasefire or negotiations.

The UN’s new envoy for Yemen, Hans Grundberg, officially assumes his duties on Sunday.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies