The Saudi-led military coalition said on Tuesday it intercepted and destroyed drones and missiles launched against the kingdom by Houthi rebels in Yemen, including one fired towards the capital Riyadh.
The Iran-aligned Houthis said they would announce details of a “major attack” on Saudi Arabia on their Al Masirah TV, amid ongoing fighting in Yemen where the rebels took control of the northern province of Al-Jawf earlier this year.
“The joint coalition forces managed … to intercept and destroy a ballistic missile launched by the terrorist Houthi militia from Sanaa towards Riyadh in a deliberate hostile operation,” coalition spokesman Turki al-Maliki said on state media.
The Saudi military said it also brought down “eight booby-trapped unmanned aircraft to target civilian objects and civilians in the kingdom”, as well as “three ballistic missiles from Saada governorate towards the kingdom”.
The attack came after Saudi Arabia announced on Monday that Yemen’s southern separatists – backed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the country’s internationally recognised government – agreed to a ceasefire after months of infighting.
The agreement aims to close the rift between Saudi Arabia and the UAE, nominal allies in the war against the Houthis.
Missiles and air raids
Violence between Saudi Arabia and the Houthis has surged after the expiry last month of a six-week ceasefire prompted by the coronavirus pandemic, with the Houthis launching missiles and drones towards Saudi cities and the Saudi-led coalition responding with air strikes.
Saudi Arabia was targeted with dozens of attacks using ballistic missiles or drones last year, including a devastating raid on oil giant Aramco’s facilities that temporarily knocked out half the kingdom’s crude output.
The attack was claimed by the Houthis, but the United States said it involved cruise missiles originating from Iran.
Yemen has been locked in conflict since 2014 when the Houthis took control of the capital, Sanaa, and went on to seize much of the north.
The crisis escalated when the Saudi-led military coalition intervened to support the internationally recognised government.
Tens of thousands of people, mostly civilians, have been killed and millions displaced in what the United Nations has called the world’s worst humanitarian disaster.