The US warned of possible attacks on Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh by Yemen’s Houthis after the Saudis reported intercepting missiles and armed drones launched by the group.
The US embassy in Riyadh put out a statement on Wednesday to alert US citizens in the city. “The embassy is tracking reports of possible missiles or drones that may be headed toward Riyadh today,” the statement said.
On Thursday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemned the Houthi attacks. “We condemn yesterday’s attacks by the Iranian-backed Houthis against Saudi Arabia. These attacks were launched indiscriminately towards Riyadh, and risked the lives of innocent civilians, including Americans,” he said.
The Saudi-led coalition fighting against the Houthis in Yemen said they intercepted six bomb-laden drones launched by the Shia group.
In recent years, the Houthis have had success launching drone and missile strikes deep inside Saudi territory. The most detrimental attack was in September 2019, when the Houthis targeted major oil facilities inside the kingdom. The US blamed Iran for the attack, but no evidence ever proved Tehran’s guilt, and the targets were within the range of Houthis drones.
Iran openly supports the Houthis politically, but it is tough to know the extent of Tehran’s military support for the group, if any, as Yemen is under a heavy US-Saudi blockade, and Iran was under a UN arms embargo until recently. What is known is the full-throated US support the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen receives despite over five years of targeting civilian infrastructure.
A report from the Yemeni Archive published on Wednesday documented how the US-backed Saudi-led coalition systematically targets bridges in Yemen, which in turn cuts off supply lines for civilians, many of whom are suffering from disease and malnutrition due to conditions caused by the war.