Yemen Rebel Ballistic Missile ‘Intercepted Over Riyadh’
The Saudi-led coalition battling Yemen’s Houthi rebels says it has intercepted a ballistic missile near Riyadh, Saudi state media report.
Witnesses in the Saudi capital posted pictures on social media showing a cloud of smoke in the air. There were no reports of any casualties.
The Houthis’ Al Masirah TV said the missile had targeted a meeting of Saudi leaders at the al-Yamama Palace.
Last month, a similar missile came close to hitting Riyadh’s airport.
Saudi Arabia and the US have accused Iran of giving the Houthis that missile.
Iran has denied arming the rebels, who have been fighting a war against Yemen’s government and the Saudi-led coalition since March 2015.
A report on Al Masirah’s website cited the Houthis’ Missile Forces as announcing the launch of a Burkan-2 missile on Tuesday afternoon “in response to the heinous crimes committed by the US-Saudi aggression against the people of Yemen”.
The missile had targeted a “meeting of the leadership of the Saudi regime in al-Yamama Palace in Riyadh”, during which Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was expected to discuss the kingdom’s annual budget, Al Masirah said.
The palace is the main headquarters of the king’s office and the royal court.
Minutes later, Saudi state-run Al Ikhbariya TV reported that a missile had been intercepted south of the capital.
One video posted by a man who said he was in the Olaya district shows a white cloud above the city. The sound of an explosion can then be heard.
The official Saudi Press Agency later cited a coalition spokesman as saying that the missile had been fired indiscriminately towards residential areas of Riyadh, and that it had been intercepted by a Patriot missile south of the city without causing damage or casualties.
The spokesman said the attack proved that Iran was continuing to support the Houthis in defiance of two UN Security Council resolutions, and that the missiles it was supplying were threatening regional and international security.
Saudi officials said US-supplied Patriot batteries intercepted the Burkan-2 missile fired at Riyadh’s airport on 4 November. But analysts have cast doubt on that assertion and said the missile’s warhead landed close to the domestic terminal.
The coalition tightened its blockade of Yemen in response to that attack, saying it wanted to halt the smuggling of weapons from Iran. But the UN warned that the restrictions could trigger “the largest famine the world has seen for many decades”.
Although the coalition later eased its restrictions, allowing humanitarian aid to be delivered to Houthi-controlled ports and airports, commercial shipments of food and fuel are still blocked, causing severe shortages.
More than 8,670 people have been killed and 49,960 injured since the coalition intervened in Yemen’s war, according to the UN.
The fighting and the coalition blockade have also left 20.7 million people in need of humanitarian aid, created the world’s largest food security emergency, and led to a cholera outbreak that is thought to have killed 2,219 people since April.