Saudi Arabia says it intercepted ‘hostile’ air target

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Saudi Arabia on Saturday intercepted a “hostile” target above the capital Riyadh, the kingdom’s state television said, regularly the target of attacks by Houthi rebels in neighboring Yemen.

An explosion was heard around 11 a.m. local time in Riyadh, according to AFP correspondents.

“I heard a powerful noise and I thought that something was falling from the sky”, testified a resident, who lives in the district of Al-Soulaimaniyé.

“The whole house was shaken,” he added.

The Saudi-led military coalition, which intervenes in Yemen to fight against the Houthis, said it had “intercepted and destroyed a hostile aerial target in the direction of Riyadh”, without giving further details, according to the public television channel Al -Ekhbariya.

At the same time, Riyadh International Airport announced delays for several flights, but it was not immediately possible to know if the two events were linked.

Saudi Arabia has been operating in Yemen since 2015, where it has come to the aid of the government in the face of the Houthi rebels, supported by Iran, who had seized several regions of the country, including the capital Sanaa.

The Houthis regularly claim attacks against Saudi Arabia, but they rarely target Riyadh, some 700 km from the border.

The rebels did not immediately comment on Saturday’s attack.

Earlier in January, the outgoing Republican administration of Donald Trump, close to Saudi Arabia, put the Houthis on the blacklist of “terrorist organizations”.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, under new President Joe Biden, has however promised to reconsider this decision so as not to “hinder the delivery of humanitarian aid”.

The conflict that has ravaged Yemen for almost six years has left tens of thousands dead, displaced millions and put its population on the brink of famine.

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