Saudis ′foil cross-border missile attack′ | News | DW | 04.07.2016
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Saudis 'foil cross-border missile attack'

Saudi Arabia has intercepted a ballistic missile it says rebels in neighboring Yemen fired towards the Saudi city of Abha. The Saudis lead a military coalition in Yemen trying to rout Houthi fighters allied with Iran.

The Saudi Arabian air defenses brought down a missile fired from across the Yemen frontier early Monday, military officials said.

"It was intercepted with no injuries," the Riyadh-led coalition fighting in Yemen said in a statement. Saudi Arabia has US-made Patriot anti-ballistic missile batteries deployed at its borders.

The Yemeni missile was at least the fourth ballistic missile launched across the border since UN-brokered peace talks began in Kuwait in April between Yemen's Houthi rebels and the Saudi-backed government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

The UN's special envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, said last week that the warring parties were taking a two-week break from the peace talks, which have made little progress.

The UN says more than 6,400 people have been killed in Yemen since March 2015, most of them civilians. About 2.8 million people have fled the fighting, with more than 80 percent of the population dependant on humanitarian aid.

The Houthi tribesmen - who Saudi Arabia says are backed by Iran - have allied themselves with elite troops loyal to Yemen's former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Together, they overran Yemen's capital Sanaa in 2014 before moving into other parts of the country, prompting the Saudi-led coalition to launch devastating airstrikes and a ground assault.

Saudi intervention in Yemen criticized

The Saudi-led military campaign - backed by US logistical support and intelligence - has been roundly criticized by human rights groups and the UN for discriminately killing civilians, especially children, leading to calls for the Gulf kingdom to be kicked off a key human rights body.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said last week the Saudis have had "an appalling record of violations in Yemen while a Human Rights Council member."

Saudi Arabia is in its final year of a three-year term on the 47-member Human Rights Council.

But Riyadh has rejected any criticism from international groups.

"We were alarmed and outraged at Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch's statement accusing Saudi Arabia of unlawful attacks in Yemen," the Saudi UN mission said in a statement. "We deeply regret the loss of any civilian life."

On the Saudi side of the border, dozens of civilians and soldiers died in skirmishes and artillery barrages earlier in the war with its southern neighbor.

jar/tj (Reuters, AFP)

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