Houthi rebels have told Al Jazeera they fired a long-range ballistic missile towards the Saudi capital, Riyadh, in retaliation to three years of air strikes that had decimated Yemen, the Arab world's poorest country.
کد خبر: ۷۸۵۳۱۴
تاریخ انتشار: ۰۶ فروردين ۱۳۹۷ - ۱۱:۰۶ 26 March 2018

Houthi rebels have told Al Jazeera they fired a long-range ballistic missile towards the Saudi capital, Riyadh, in retaliation to three years of air strikes that had decimated Yemen, the Arab world's poorest country.

Muhammad al-Bukhaiti, a spokesman for the Houthis, said the rebels fired a Burkan 2-H missile - a Scud-type missile with a range of more than 800km - towards Riyadh late on Sunday, in "response to the bombing of Yemeni cities, and siege of the Yemeni people".

Bukhaiti urged the Saudis to return to the negotiating table ahead of the third anniversary of the war, but vowed his group would not stop firing rockets until the kingdom ceased all aerial bombardment.

Al Masirah, a TV network run by the Houthis, also claimed responsibility for the attack, reporting that the rebels also fired other missiles at airports in the southern Saudi cities of Abha, Jizan and Najran.

Saudi State TV reported that it intercepted the missile over the northeastern part of the capital, with several videos shared on social media showed the alleged interception.

The Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported that an Egyptian resident was killed in the missile attack - the first death in Riyadh since the country's military campaign was launched three years ago in Yemen.

The SPA - quoting media spokesman of Civil Defence in Riyadh, Mohammed Al-Hammadi - said that the Saudi air defence shot down seven ballistic missiles fired by the Houthis.

Earlier on Sunday, Abdul Malik al-Houthi, the leader of Yemen's Houthi rebels, vowed to "use long-range weaponry" and "recruit more fighters" in the conflict with his northern neighbour.

"In the fourth year of the war, we will use more developed and more diverse missile systems which will overcome all American and non-American air defence systems to target Saudi Arabia," al-Houthi said in a lengthy televised speech.

"We'll use our Badr [short-range ballistic missiles] and Burkan missiles, long range drones which have excellent military capabilities. We will activate military institutions in an unprecedented way and open up more opportunities to recruit the children and men of our people to fight."


Conflict spills across the border

Sunday's attack highlights how the war in Yemen is increasingly spilling across the border since the Saudi-led coalition began its military intervention on March 26, 2015.

Alarmed that a Shia group with ties to Iran had taken over parts of their southern neighbour, Saudi Arabia and a coalition of Arab states intervened to restore the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, after the Houthis seized the capital, Sanaa, and threatened to conquer the last government stronghold of Aden.

Since then, the Saudis have carried out more than 16,000 air raids, resulting in mass civilian casualties with weddings, hospitals and funerals targeted.

The Houthis continue to hold most of the north, with more than 18 million civilians living in rebel-held territory.

Nabeel Khoury, a non-resident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council's Rafik Hariri Center, said Sunday's attack was a warning that the Houthis should not be underestimated.

"The Houthis are firing at Riyadh to show they are still capable militarily, and that they are not to be taken for granted.

"But it's not a good sign considering [Saudi Crown Prince] Mohammed Bin Salman was in Washington DC meeting US President Donald Trump. The two may have discussed a diplomatic push to end the war, but it seems the opposite is the case.

"The Saudis continue to see Iran when they look at Yemen. Which is wrong. If the Saudis are serious about ending this war they will have to look at Yemen with ways in which to end this conflict."

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