Yemen's Houthi fighters have fired a ballistic missile targeting one of the royal palaces, where Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was supposed to be present. The palace is located in a residential locality in the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh.
The projectile was intercepted by Riyadh's Patriot anti-missile system. Saudi Arabia has raised serious concerns after civilian areas are being targeted by the Iran-backed Houthis.
Houthis have confirmed they had fired the missile aimed at the al-Yamama royal palace on Tuesday (19 December) and warned that Saudi palaces, oil facilities and military installations are within its strike range. The rebels said the attack was to mark 1,000 days since the Saudi Arabia-led coalition started its military offensive.
Saudi Arabia's influential crown prince was said to be the target of the missile launch as he was supposed to hold a meeting at the al-Yamama palace over the kingdom's latest budget announcement, according to the al-Masirah's website. Al-Yamama palace is the Saudi royal court and also the main headquarters of the Saudi king's office.
"This is our answer to them and to the whole world," Houthi leader Abdulmalik al-Houthi said in a televised speech adding that the attack is the beginning of a new chapter in the long-running Yemen conflict. "The more crimes you perpetrate, the more tyrannical you are, you will meet nothing but more missiles."
The missile, which the US said, bears the hallmarks of weapons supplied by Iran, did not cause any damage or casualty. Iran, a Shia-oriented regional heavyweight and arch-rival of Sunni-inclined Saudi Arabia, has repeatedly denied it had armed the Houthis.
Following the interception, Colonel Turki al-Malki, a spokesperson for the Saudi-led coalition, said in a statement: "The missile was aimed at populated residential areas in the Riyadh area, and – thank God – was intercepted and destroyed south of Riyadh without any casualties.
"Targeting residential areas through ballistic missiles is a violation of international humanitarian laws. Targeting of cities with ballistic missiles is a clear evidence of the continued acts of the Iranian-backed Houthi militias of using humanitarian entry points to smuggling Iranian missiles to the Yemeni territories in flagrant violation of UN resolutions," he added.
In early November, Houthi insurgents launched a missile targeting an airport in Riyadh and that was also shot down by interceptors. Later, a UN-appointed panel had found that the missile was manufactured in Iran.
Following the latest missile launch, Washington has warned Tehran is dragging the world "deeper into a broadening regional conflict".
"We must all act co-operatively to expose the crimes of the Tehran regime and do whatever is needed to make sure they get the message. If we do not, then Iran will bring the world deeper into a broadening regional conflict," said the US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley in her address to the UN Security Council.