Yemen’s Houthi rebels say they have carried out their largest military operation against neighboring Saudi Arabia, targeting the defense ministry and a military base in the kingdom’s capital, Riyadh.
His announcement on Tuesday came after a Saudi-led military coalition fighting the rebels in Yemen said it had intercepted and destroyed missiles and drones fired from the Yemeni capital of Sanaa.
“A large number of winged ballistic missiles and drones targeted the capital of the Saudi enemy … hitting barracks and military centers, including the defense and intelligence ministry and [King] Salman Air Base, “Houthi military spokesman Yahya Sarea said in a televised speech.
The Houthis said they had also attacked military sites in other cities, such as Jazan and Najran, in the south, near the border with Yemen.
There were no immediate reports of damage or victims.
Previously, the spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition, Turki al-Malki, was quoted by the official Saudi press agency as saying: “The joint coalition forces managed to … intercept and destroy a ballistic missile launched by the terrorist militia. Houthi from Sanaa to Riyadh in a deliberate hostile operation. “
The coalition said it had also shot down “eight drones with explosive traps to attack civilian and civilian objects in the kingdom,” as well as “three ballistic missiles from the Saada governorate into the kingdom.”
‘YESig climbing ‘
Speaking to Al Jazeera, Mamoun Abu-Nowar, a retired Jordanian air force general, said the recent events were reason enough to make Saudi Arabia feel insecure about his military prowess, despite Riyadh’s claims to intercept missiles.
“Getting to Riyadh with that precision and targeting the defense ministry and some other military [base] It is a big escalation because the Houthis are now winning in Jawf and some parts in Yemen, “he said, speaking from Amman.
“This makes the Saudis insecure and unstable for any future investment and is a major threat to the Saudi defense air system, which I think is a bit weak at intercepting such missiles,” he continued. “They need THAD [Terminal High Altitude Area Defence] system that intercepts missiles beyond the atmosphere. “
The attack came after Saudi Arabia announced on Monday that separatists in southern Yemen, backed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the country’s internationally recognized government, agreed to a ceasefire after months of internal strife.
The agreement aims to close the gap between the two former allies in the war against the Houthis.
Yemen has been in conflict since 2014 when the Houthis seized control of Sanaa and seized much of the north.
The fighting increased in March 2015 when the Saudi-UAE-led military coalition intervened to restore the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
Saudi Arabia came under attack with dozens of ballistic missile or drone attacks last year, including a devastating foray into the facilities of oil giant Aramco that temporarily cut half of the kingdom’s crude output.
The long-running war has killed tens of thousands of people, mostly civilians, and has forced millions to flee their homes in what the United Nations has called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
Al Jazeera and news agencies