The Iran-aligned movement Houthi of Yemen mentioned that it had launched a large missile and drone attack deep in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday that struck the defense ministry and also the military base in Riyadh, but the kingdom stated that it had blocked the attack.
The Saudi-led coalition that has been in war with the group for five years mentioned that it intercepted a ballistic missile, which was fired towards Riyadh by the Houthis. There were no immediate confirmation by the coalition and not even by the authorities of Saudi on the specific targets.
A Reuters witness in the capital heard two loud blasts and saw billows of smoke in the sky over Riyadh close to dawn. There were no immediate reports of damage or casualties. "A large number of winged ballistic missiles and drones targeted the capital of the Saudi enemy ... pounding military headquarters and centres including the defence and intelligence ministry and (King) Salman Air Base," Houthi military spokesman Yahya Sarea said in a televised speech.
Houthis Take Responsibility of Riyadh Attack
He said attacks were also launched against military sites in the southern Saudi cities of Najran and Jizan that border Yemen. Violence between the two sides has surged after the expiry last month of a six-week ceasefire prompted by the coronavirus pandemic. The coalition has responded to cross-border Houthi missile and drone attacks with air strikes.
Coalition spokesman Colonel Turki al-Malki said in a statement that the Houthi attack on Riyadh was a "deliberate hostile action designed to target civilians".He did not immediately respond to a Reuters' request for comment on the Houthi report that the attack had struck the defence ministry and air base.
In a statement on Saudi state news agency SPA, Malki said the coalition on Tuesday intercepted three missiles fired towards Najran and Jizan, and several armed drones launched towards the kingdom late on Monday. The coalition intervened in Yemen in March 2015 after the Houthis ousted the Saudi-backed government from the capital, Sanaa, in late 2014. The conflict is largely seen in the region as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
(With agency inputs)