Saudi Arabia says missile shot by Yemen rebels intercepted
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Saudi Arabia says missile shot by Yemen rebels intercepted

Kingdom says ballistic missile shot down over Khamis Mushait in south, Iran-backed Houthi rebels claim it hit a Saudi air base

Illustrative screen capture from a video claiming to show Saudi missile interceptors shooting down a missile over Riyadh on March 26, 2018. (Screen capture: Twitter)
Illustrative screen capture from a video claiming to show Saudi missile interceptors shooting down a missile over Riyadh on March 26, 2018. (Screen capture: Twitter)

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Saudi air defenses on Thursday intercepted a ballistic missile fired from rebel-held territory in neighboring Yemen, state media reported, as a Riyadh-led military coalition pushes a major offensive to capture a strategic port.

The missile was intercepted over Khamis Mushait in the kingdom’s south, and no casualties were reported, the coalition said in a statement released by the official Saudi Press Agency.

The Iran-backed rebels claimed in a statement that the missile hit a Saudi air base.

The insurgents, who have ramped up missile attacks against Saudi Arabia, are often known to claim successful strikes.

The kingdom, which leads a military coalition that has fought the insurgents since 2015, usually claims to intercept most missiles.

The latest strike comes as Yemeni pro-government forces are locked in heavy fighting with rebels as they press a Saudi and UAE-backed offensive to retake the key aid hub of Hodeida.

On Sunday, Saudi air defenses intercepted a ballistic missile over the southern city of Jizan, but no casualties were reported, state media said.

A day earlier, three civilians were killed in Jizan when Houthi rebels fired a “projectile” at the province, according to the coalition.

Saudi Arabia last month tested a new siren system for the capital Riyadh and the oil-rich Eastern Province, in a sign of the increasing threat posed by the rebels’ arms.

Riyadh accuses its regional rival Tehran of supplying the Houthis with ballistic missiles, a charge Iran denies.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other allies intervened in Yemen in 2015 to push back the rebels and restore the internationally recognized government to power after the Houthis ousted it from swathes of the country including the capital Sanaa.

Nearly 10,000 people have been killed since the alliance intervened in Yemen in March 2015, contributing to what the UN has called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

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