Saudi Arabia shoots down Houthi missile fired at Najran

Second attack in a week on southern Saudi province comes as rebels suffer battlefield losses

Smoke rises after an airstrike on the military site in Sanaa, Yemen January 11, 2018.  REUTERS/Mohamed al-Sayaghi
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Saudi air defence forces shot down a ballistic missile fired by Yemen's Houthi rebels at the southern province of Najran on Thursday evening.

Colonel Turki Al Malki, spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition fighting the rebels, said the missile launch site had been traced to Amran province in northern Yemen.

The missile was targeted at heavily populated areas but was destroyed in mid-air without any casualties, Col Al Malki said in a press release carried by the Kuwait News Agency

Houthi media said the missile fired on Thursday was a Qaher 2-M ballistic missile and was targeting a special forces camp and a facility for helicopter gunships in Najran.

The Iran-backed rebels had fired a ballistic missile at Najran on January 5 that was also intercepted by the Saudi air defence.

Col Al Malki said the missile attacks proved that the Iranian regime was continuing to provide the rebels with weapons in contravention of the UN Security Council resolutions 2216 and 2231.

Thursday's attack took to 88 the total number of missile attacks on Saudi Arabia by the rebels since the start of the Yemen conflict in 2015, according to Kuna.

The missile attacks come as rebel forces suffer steady losses against coalition-backed Yemeni government forces.

Dozens of Houthis were killed or captured in Al Qubaita district of northern Lahj province as troops seized the strategic Al Hamam mountain, the Yemen News Agency reported.

The area between Lahj and Taez provinces is one of several fronts where pro-government forces are advancing with support from the coalition, which includes the UAE. The Houthi losses have mounted since they fell out with and murdered their ally, former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, in early December.

Dr Anwar Gargash, the UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, tweeted on Thursday that the killing of Saleh marked a turning point in the conflict.