Saudi media accuses Yemen's Iran-backed rebels of missile fire at Mecca

Both satellite news network Al-Arabiya and pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat said the missiles were fired by Yemen's Houthi Shia rebels at Mecca.
Tuesday 21/05/2019
Newly recruited Shiite fighters, known as Houthis, march during a gathering aimed at mobilizing more fighters into battlefronts to fight pro-government forces in several Yemeni cities, in Sanaa, Yemen, January 3, 2019. (AP)
Newly recruited Shiite fighters, known as Houthis, march during a gathering aimed at mobilizing more fighters into battlefronts to fight pro-government forces in several Yemeni cities, in Sanaa, Yemen, January 3, 2019. (AP)

Saudi media accused Iran-backed Yemeni rebels Tuesday of targeting Islam's holiest city Mecca after Riyadh and its allies said they had intercepted two missiles over the kingdom.

The exiled Yemeni government, which is based in Saudi Arabia, echoed the claim but the Houthi rebels denied any such attack.

Coalition spokesman Colonel Turki al-Maliki said two missiles were shot down between Jeddah and Taiz districts of Mecca province on Monday but did not elaborate on the suspected target or who fired them.

Both satellite news network Al-Arabiya and pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat said the missiles were fired by Yemen's Houthi Shia rebels at Mecca.

They said it was the third such launch by the Iran-backed Houthis targeting the holy city since the Saudi-led coalition intervened in the war in Yemen in March 2015.

The Houthis denied any such missile fire, adding that they would have claimed responsibility if they had been behind a launch.

The exiled Yemeni government's information minister, Muammar al-Iryani, said: "The Houthi militias targeted Mecca," adding that the "terrorist crime" was carried out "on orders from Iran."

The claim comes against a backdrop of rising regional tensions between Iran and Gulf Arab countries allied with the United States.

Saudi Arabia is to host twin summits in Mecca May 30 of the Arab League and of the Gulf Cooperation Council. An Islamic summit is also scheduled for May 31. 

(AFP)