Saudi-led coalition says 8 Lebanese Hezbollah members killed in Yemen

In another development, the Saudi-led coalition said it intercepted two missiles launched by the Houthi militia over Riyadh.
Monday 25/06/2018
Shia rebels, known as Houthis, hold a poster of Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah during a rally in support of Hezbollah, in Sana'a, Yemen. (AP)
Shia rebels, known as Houthis, hold a poster of Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah during a rally in support of Hezbollah, in Sana'a, Yemen. (AP)

RIYADH - The Saudi-led coalition battling Iran-supported rebels in Yemen said Monday its forces killed eight members of Lebanon's Shia militant group Hezbollah in northern Yemen, near the Saudi border.

"The coalition killed 41 terrorist elements in Maran and destroyed their vehicles and equipment. Among the dead were eight members of Lebanese Hezbollah, including a commander," coalition spokesman Colonel Turki al-Maliki said in a statement, without providing further details.

Beside the implicit accusation of involvement in Yemen, Hezbollah fighters have been accused of serving as proxies to Iran in the Syria war. 

Maran is in Saada province, a stronghold of Yemen's Shia Houthi rebels who are backed by Iran.

In another development, the Saudi-led coalition said Sunday it had intercepted two missiles launched by Yemen's Houthi militia over the capital Riyadh.

At least six loud blasts were heard and bright flashes were seen in the sky over the Saudi capital, a Reuters witness said. Shrapnel was spotted on a street in the diplomatic quarter where most embassies are located and many foreigners live, but there was no serious damage.

"Saudi Royal Air Defence Forces intercepted and destroyed the missiles. Some of the debris of the intercepted missiles landed on residential areas, thankfully without causing any casualties," coalition spokesman Mailki said in a statement.

Houthi-run al-Masirah television said Burkan missiles were fired at the Saudi defence ministry and other targets.

The attack was the first to target Riyadh since the Saudi-led coalition launched an offensive on June 12 to capture Yemen's Hodeidah port city, in the biggest battle of the war aimed at weakening the Houthis by cutting their main supply line.

The Iran-backed Houthis, who control the capital Sana'a, have fired dozens of missiles into the kingdom in recent months, part of a three-year-old conflict..

There were fire trucks and a heightened security presence in south-western Riyadh's diplomatic quarter following Sunday's missile attack, which was at least the sixth on the capital since December.

The rockets' interception by Patriot missiles sent debris measuring up to several metres hurtling towards residential areas. Pieces fell near the US mission and at a school in the diplomatic quarter and damaged a nearby car, Maliki told reporters during a rare tour of affected neighbourhoods.

Debris sparked a fire at a construction site 10 km. (6 miles) further south and fell on the roof of a private residence.

Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdul-Salam was quoted by a pro Hezbollah Lebanese TV station as saying, "The longer the aggression and war continue, the greater our ballistic missile capabilities."

Maliki said coalition advances on Hodeidah and other fronts were pushing the Houthis to try to project strength through such attacks.

"We know that this is not going to affect the civilian life in Riyadh or other parts of the kingdom. We know that the Houthis are acting unpredictably," he said.

The Western-backed coalition intervened in Yemen's war in 2015 to unseat the Houthis and restore the internationally-recognised government in exile.

Riyadh has accused the Houthis of using the port of Hodeidah to smuggle Iranian-made weapons, including missiles.

(The Arab Weekly staff with news agencies)