The Saudi Arabia-led coalition fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen has said it intercepted a ballistic missile south of Riyadh on Tuesday, according to Saudi state television station Al Ekhbariya. The missile did not cause any damage.
The missile was heading to a residential area in the Saudi capital, before it was intercepted, Saudi Arabia’s official news agency reported.
A Houthi rebel spokesperson Mohammed AbdulSalam said on his Twitter account that the rebels fired the Burkan 2H ballistic missile, targeting the prestigious Yamama Palace hotel in the Saudi capital. The Burkan missile is an Iranian-modified scud missile.
Al Masirah TV, a Houthi-controlled TV station, reported that a large meeting at the hotel was the target of the missile. The missile launch coincides with 1,000 days since the Saudi-led coalition started its military campaign against Yemen’s Houthi rebels, which the kingdom says is backed by Iran.
Last month, Saudi Arabia’s Defense Ministry said it intercepted a Houthi missile over an international airport in the Saudi capital. The Houthi-run Defense Ministry claimed responsibility for that attack.
Last week, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley presented what she called “concrete evidence” of Iran’s weapons proliferation. She stood in front of a short-range ballistic missile which she said was made in Iran, then sent to Houthi rebels in Yemen who fired it at Riyadh last month.
Saudi Arabia has been leading a coalition of states against the Iran-backed Houthi rebels, who toppled Yemen’s internationally recognized government in 2015.
The missile launch on King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh was the first time the heart of the Saudi capital was attacked and represented a major escalation of the ongoing war in the region.
Dozens killed in coalition strikes this month
On Tuesday, the UN Human Rights office said that Saudi-led coalition airstrikes killed at least 136 people and injured around 87 people since December 6.
The UN has also received unconfirmed reports of summary killings and detentions of people affiliated to former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s party, according to a press briefing. Saleh was killed by Houthi rebels after he announced the end of a three-year alliance with the rebels.
Over 5,500 civilians have died since the start of the coalition’s military campaign in March 2015, according to the UN. More than 9,000 have been wounded.