Saudi Arabia intercepts ballistic missiles

Arab News staffers Huda Bashatah Deema Al-Khudair Saudi media personality Muna AbuSulayman Lulwa Shalhoub and Aseel Bashraheel

Al Arabiya said earlier that Saudi air defense forces had intercepted a missile over Riyadh after at least three blasts were heard in the capital.

A video on the TV station's Twitter page said the ballistic missile was sent by the mainly Shia Islamic Houthi rebel movement in Yemen, which is fighting the Saudi-backed Yemeni government.

The Houthis and their allies have used the drones to disable Patriot missile defence systems deployed by Saudi-led forces in Yemen, said auto.

The facility reportedly belonged to the oil massive Saudi Aramco.

There were no immediate reports of damage.

Amid tensions rising, the Houthis want tol demonstrate they can reach the Saudi capital, and threatens to escalate a regional rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

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The Houthis have repeatedly targeted the kingdom in retaliation for its offensive inside Yemen.

The strikes by the rebels in neighbouring Yemen came just days before Saudi Arabia is to host heads of state and dignitaries for the annual Arab League summit, which will be held this year in the eastern Saudi city of Dammam.

The war in Yemen, the region's poorest country, started in 2014 after Houthi rebels seized control of the capital and began pushing south towards the country's third-biggest city Aden. More than 10,000 Yemenis have died in the conflict and millions in the impoverished country have been pushed to the brink of starvation.

The arms monitor Conflict Armament Research says it has evidence that the drones used on Wednesday and other Houthi kit was made in Iran and was not of indigenous design and construction "in contrast to Houthi statements".

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