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Saudi-led Coalition Intensifies Airstrikes on Houthis After Intercepting Ballistic Missile

A Houthi fighter talks on the phone as he walks at the site of an air strike on a parade square in Sana'a, Yemen, Nov. 5, 2017.
A Houthi fighter talks on the phone as he walks at the site of an air strike on a parade square in Sana'a, Yemen, Nov. 5, 2017.

Saudi Arabia and its allied forces launched a new wave of airstrikes on targets in neighboring Yemen, where Riyadh has been leading a military alliance against Iran-backed Shi’ite Houthi militant forces since March 2015.

Alhurra reported the airstrikes targeted the National Security building and the Ministry of Interior and other positions Sunday in the capital, Sana’a.

The renewed attacks came a day after the country's military said it intercepted a ballistic missile fired from Yemen and aimed at the King Khalid International Airport northeast of Riyadh.

Iran-backed Houthi fighters in Yemen claimed responsibility for the missile. "We had warned that the capitals of the countries that attack Yemen would not be safe from our ballistic missiles,” Mohamed Abdel Salam, a Houthis spokesperson, said in a statement, Arab media reported.

Saudi Arabia has been leading a military campaign in Yemen, which has been engulfed in civil war since 2014 after the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels swept into Sana’a and overthrew President Abd Rabu Mansour Hadi's government. Saudi Arabia has accused Iran of providing arms to the Shi’ite rebels and that Iran’s hostile policy is the major obstacle in solving the crisis in Yemen.

"A shot was taken by Iran, in my opinion, at Saudi Arabia,” President Donald Trump, who talked to Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz about the intercepted missile, told reporters on board Air Force One while flying to Japan. “And our system knocked it down," he added, a reference to the Patriot missile batteries Riyadh purchased from the United States.

Saturday’s missile was not the first Houthi attack on Saudi territory. The Houthi forces have repeatedly struck targets inside Saudi Arabia. In July, the Saudis shot down a ballistic missile from Yemen near Mecca, a month before Muslims began their annual pilgrimage to the city.

Abdel-Malek al-Houthi, the Houthi leader, last month threatened that missiles available to his forces could target Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, which is a key member of the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.

Recent reports by the United Nations and right groups have blamed the warring parties for civilian deaths, including hundreds of children, and for destroying schools and hospitals.