For the first time, a Houthi missile came close to hitting a heavily populated area in Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabian forces intercepted a ballistic missile fired Saturday by rebels in Yemen toward one of the kingdom’s major international airports on the outskirts of the capital, Riyadh.
The missile fire drew an immediate rebuke from President Donald Trump, who blamed Iran in part for the attack.
The missile was fired across Saudi Arabia’s southern border by Yemen’s Shiite Houthi rebels, according to several Houthi-owned media outlets, including Al-Masirah and SABA. The rebels are at war with the kingdom, and are supported and armed by Iran.
Saudi Arabia said the missile was shot down by its air defense forces, with fragments of the missile landing in an uninhabited area north of the capital. Saudi Arabia’s Civil Aviation Authority said the missile did not cause any damage to King Khalid International Airport and that flights were not disrupted.
This is the first time that a Houthi missile has come so close to a heavily populated area, and it appears to be the farthest that such a missile has reached inside Saudi Arabia.
A Saudi military spokesman condemned the attack in a statement, saying the missile was fired “indiscriminately” toward a populated civilian area.
Saudi military forces have intercepted missiles fired by Houthis several times since March 2015, when the conflict in Yemen began. The kingdom has also imposed an air and sea blockade on Yemen.
The war, which remains a stalemate, has killed more than 10,000 civilians and displaced three million others, pushing the Arab world’s poorest country to the brink of famine.
Saudi Arabia accuses its rival, Shiite power Iran, of training and helping arm the rebels. Iran denies that it has provided material support, though it acknowledges its political support of the Houthis.
The US has backed the Saudi-led coalition with logistical support. Responding to the attack, Trump immediately put some of the blame on Iran.
A Shot Taken by Iran
“A shot was just taken by Iran, in my opinion, at Saudi Arabia. And our system knocked it down,” Trump said, referring to the Patriot missile batteries Saudi Arabia has purchased from the US. “That’s how good we are. Nobody makes what we make and now we’re selling it all over the world.”
Iranian state media and officials did not immediately comment early Sunday on Trump’s remarks.
News outlet Al-Masirah said the missile launched Saturday evening was made in Yemen and was the third to be fired toward Riyadh this year. It reported the rebels saying the missile was fired in response to “Saudi-American aggression and crimes against the people of Yemen.”