The Saudi- led coalition bombing Yemen has intercepted a missile on the outskirts of Riyadh on Tuesday launched by the Shiite rebel group of the Houthis in full escalation of the conflict in the neighboring country after the death of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
The spokesman for the Houthis, Mohamed Abdelsalam, has announced through Twitter the launch of a volcano ballistic missile 2-H towards the royal palace of Al Yamama in the Saudi capital. Shortly thereafter, the coalition headed by Riyadh has confirmed through the television Al Arabiya to have located and destroyed a missile in the south of the capital.
Videos published on social networks show the trail of smoke left by the projectile over the sky of the capital while witnesses quoted by Reuters have reported the sound of an explosion. On November 4 another missile launched from Yemeni soil was intercepted in the vicinity of the Riyadh airport.
“The coalition forces confirm they have intercepted an Iranian-Houthi missile aimed at the south of Riyadh, there are no casualties, ” Saudi government sources said in a brief statement aimed at their enemy country.
Just last week the US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley blamed Tehran for being “illegally supplying weapons” to the rebels. At a press conference at the Anacostia-Bolling base outside Washington, Haley displayed the remains of the missile launched last month of alleged Iranian manufacture. “It is an unequivocal proof,” said the American, who also accused of finding her hand in “Iraq, Lebanon and Syria.”
The republic of the Ayatollahs, an ally of the Houthis, has insistently denied providing weapons to the rebels who since 2015 face the bombing campaign of the Saudi coalition. On Monday, Iranian Defense Minister Amir Hatami advanced that he will file a complaint with the UN over the US accusations and will demand the entry of the remains of the missile.
In another twist, the country has called on Tuesday for consultations to the ambassador of Switzerland, which represents US interests in Tehran in protest of “provocative and unfounded denouncement of Haley.”
In Yemen, the poorest nation of the Persian Gulf, the two powers of the Middle East, Saudi Arabia and Iran, have fought since 2014 their battle for regional hegemony. Three years later, no side has managed to claim victory while the civilian population is the victim of famine, cholera and “the greatest humanitarian catastrophe” on the planet. D ince March 2015, the Saudi bombings have claimed more than 8,600 lives and left more than 49,000 wounded.
The assassination earlier this month of Abdullah Saleh, who had allied with the Houthis and in recent weeks had opened negotiations with Saudi Arabia to change sides, has increased the heat of the battle. The UN has denounced on Tuesday that air attacks have claimed the lives of at least 136 civilians since December 6. The agency has identified seven bombings that hit a prison in a Sana’a district leaving at least 45 prisoners dead.
Subjected to a brutal blockade, more than 20 million people, including around 11 million children, need urgent humanitarian assistance. And 14.8 million do not have basic medical assistance in a country where cholera already registers more than 900,000 cases of contagion. Diphtheria is the last of the diseases to reach the already precarious panorama of the country.