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Saudi Arabia shoots down missile fired by rebels in Yemen
US Missile Defense Agency / CCL
Even as the Trump administration has enjoyed success against ISIS, things aren’t calming down in the Middle East — particularly in Yemen.
A Saudi-led coalition announced on Sunday that Saudia Arabia shot down a missile fired over their southern city of Jazan by rebels in neighboring Yemen on Saturday. Debris from the missile fell over the city’s residential areas but, according to the coalition, there were no casualties.
It was the latest missile attack on the U.S. ally by the Shiite militants known as Houthis, an Iran-backed militia.
Saudi intercepts Yemeni missile attack
The successfully intercepted attack comes after another Houthi missile strike on Jazan killed three civilians Saturday, according to Saudi state media. Saudi Arabia intercepted similar attacks over the southern cities of Jazan and Najran in May, with no casualties, according to the coalition.
Houthi rebels have increased missile strikes on Saudi Arabia in recent months. Saudi Arabia has responded to the growing threat with a new siren system, which it tested last month, for its capital, Riyadh, and its Eastern Province.
The missile attacks coincided with heavy fighting over the weekend between coalition-backed government forces and rebels near the rebel-held port city of Al Hodeidah, near the Red Sea. A weeks-long government advance toward the city succeeded in intensifying the fighting that has killed more than 600 in recent days, according to Yemeni security officials.
Meanwhile, the city remains a key life-line for food and supplies into the famine-stricken country — but Saudi Arabia has accused the rebel Houthis of using the port to smuggle Iranian weapons.
Saudi Arabia has been at war with the Houthis since the rebels struck an offensive against Yemen’s internationally recognized government in 2015 and took over the capital of Sanaa. Saudi Arabia accuses its regional rival, Iran, of supporting the Houthis.
The Saudi-led intervention has included several missile attacks, some of which strikes have killed civilians, prompting international criticism. An April strike on Hodeidah killed 12, including 7 children.
A coalition led by Saudi Arabia and including the United Arab Emirates and others first intervened in 2015 shortly after Yemen’s civil war began. The conflict has since killed nearly 10,000 people and displaced more than 3 million, resulting in what the U.N. has called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
While civilian deaths are always regrettable, Saudi Arabia would have no need to attack the Houthis if the Houthis did not attack Saudi Arabian civilians, with Iran’s support.
Any rebel group that takes weapons from Iran is no friend of the United States. The Houthis can keep hammering Riyadh with missiles — Saudi Arabia will just shoot them down and retaliate.
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