Saudi Arabia shoots down drone aimed at kingdom from Yemen

The Arab Coalition blamed the Houthi rebels for launching the aircraft

A destroyed drone is seen at the news conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia January 20, 2019. REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser
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Saudi Arabia has shot down a drone aimed at the kingdom and fired from Yemen, according to Saudi state television.

The Arab Coalition battling the Houthis in the war-torn country blamed the Iran-backed rebels for the drone attack.

The kingdom’s air defence systems prevented the drone from landing in a populated area of Saudi territory.

Some civilians suffered light injuries from debris when the drone was shot down, coalition spokesman Colonel Turki Al Maliki said, according to Saudi state television .

The aircraft had been heading towards residential areas in Abha, around 230 km (140 miles) north of the border with Yemen, Saudi-owned Al Arabiya TV said.

An inspection of the wreckage showed the drone had “Iranian characteristics and specifications,” Mr Maliki said.

Civil war in Yemen has pitted the Houthis against the government of Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi since late 2014. The Saudi-led coalition intervened on the side of Mr Hadi's government in 2015.

The coalition accuses Iran of supplying the Houthis with arms, including drones and missiles. Iran and the Houthis deny the accusations.

Tensions between the warring parties have heightened in recent weeks over a stalled United Nations-led peace deal in the port of Hodeidah. The UN is trying to arrange a withdrawal of both sides from Hodeidah, the main entry point for most of Yemen's imports.

The Houthis have fired dozens of missiles into Saudi Arabia in the four-year conflict. Most of the missiles have been intercepted by the Saudi military.