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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 6 March 2021

Saudi Arabia intercepts airborne attack at Riyadh

Saudi capital has been targeted in the past by Yemen's Iran-backed rebels

Saudi Arabia's capital Riyadh has been targeted in the past by missiles and armed drones launched by Houthi rebels in Yemen. Shuttershock
Saudi Arabia's capital Riyadh has been targeted in the past by missiles and armed drones launched by Houthi rebels in Yemen. Shuttershock

Saudi Arabia said it intercepted and destroyed an unspecified “hostile air target” targeting its capital Riyadh on Saturday.

The Saudi-led coalition supporting the government in the civil war in neighbouring Yemen did not provide further information, in a statement released on state television.

It did not specify the nature of the attack or who could have been behind it.

A loud boom was heard over central Riyadh on Saturday morning, accompanied by a trail of white smoke in the sky.

"I heard a loud sound and thought that something had fallen from the sky," one resident, who lives in the Al Sulaimaniyah district of Riyadh, told AFP.

"The whole house was shaking."

The Iran-backed Yemeni Houthi rebels regularly launch missiles and armed drones at Saudi territory, although only a few of the attacks have reached as far north as the capital.

Western experts, Saudi Arabia and the United States say Iran has supplied arms, including ballistic missiles, to the Houthis. Iran denies this, although devices in the weapons link back to Tehran.

The United States strongly condemned the attack in a statement released on Sunday.

"We are gathering more information, but it appears to have been an attempt to target civilians. Such attacks contravene international law and undermine all efforts to promote peace and stability.

"As we work to de-escalate tensions in the region through principled diplomacy, including by bringing an end to the war in Yemen, we will also help our partner Saudi Arabia defend against attacks on its territory and hold those who attempt to undermine stability to account," the statement said.

The United Arab Emirates also strongly condemned the attack, issuing a statement expressing its full solidarity with the Kingdom.

"The security of the United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are indivisible, and that any threat facing the Kingdom is considered by the Emirates a threat to its security and stability."

France, Germany and the UK also strongly condemned the attempted aerial attack on Riyadh.

Updated: January 25, 2021 05:50 PM

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