Saudi intercepts two Houthi drones as rebels intensify attacks on kingdom

Houthi rebels have violated the Stockholm deal over 5,000 times, Arab coalition says

epa06976772 Colonel Turki al-Maliki, a spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition forces against al-Huthi forces, addressed a press conference at the security force's officers' club in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 27 August 2018. He said coalition forces were making significant progress on the land of Yemen. Two airstrikes on buses carrying children were added recently to the ongoing war in Yemen. According to UN figures, nearly three million people in Yemen have been forcibly displaced by escalating conflict since March 2015, when the Saudi-led military coalition began bombing the Houthi rebels and their allies across the impoverished Arab country.  EPA/AHMED YOSRI
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Saudi air defense forces on Monday intercepted two Houthi drones targeting a southern city that’s home to an air base, state media reported on Tuesday, as the rebels intensified their attacks on the kingdom.

“The attack was part of the continuing attempt by the Houthi terrorists to target civilians in Saudi Arabia,” Arab coalition spokesman Col Turki Al Malki said during a press conference in Riyadh.

The drones targeted Khamis Mushait, some 815 kilometers southwest of the capital, Riyadh, and near the kingdom's border with Yemen.

Houthi-backed Al Masirah TV made the announcement and claimed the rebels had targeted the King Khalid airbase near Khamis Mushait.

It comes as the Arab coalition intensified air raids on Houthi positions in the northern Yemeni province of Hajjah.

“It is our right to take the necessary deterrent measures to deal with these hostile acts in line with international laws,” Col Al Malki said.

The rebels have stepped up drone and missile attacks on the kingdom amid tensions between Iran and the United States.

Last month, the Saudi air force shot down a bomb-laden drone that targeted Jizan airport, which is used by thousands of civilians everyday.

The rebels have lost 342 areas around the country that were under their control, Col Al Malki said.

But during the last six months, the rebels have committed 5,083 violations of the UN brokered Stockholm deal, which includes a ceasefire in the port city of Hodeidah, he said.

Negotiations in the Swedish village of Rimbo last December produced agreements on a prisoner exchange, a ceasefire in Hodeidah, which is the main entry point for desperately needed food and aid, and for talks on a ceasefire in Taez.

The Saudi official said the rebels are continuing to cause a threat to navigation in the Bab Al Mandeb strait, which is a strategic waterway, located between Djibouti and Yemen that links the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean.

The coalition on Monday launched an emergency relief campaign and an air bridge to assist people affected by heavy rains and floods that hit Aden and its neighbouring provinces.

Col Al Malki said it was providing food, medicine and housing materials, opening roads, draining flooded streets and residential areas, and repairing electricity networks.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE are leading an Arab Coalition that intervened in Yemen in 2015 to try to restore the internationally recognised government, which was pushed out of Sanaa by the Houthis in late 2014.