Saudi air defense forces have intercepted a ballistic missile launched by Yemen’s Houthi militias toward the holy city of Makkah on Thursday night, the Arab Coalition command early Friday.
In a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency, the coalition command said the Houthi missile was shot down over Al-Wasliya area in Al-Taif province, some 69 kilometers away from the holy city. No damage or injury were reported.
The missile attack was “clearly a desperate attempt to disrupt the Haj season,” said the statement.
It said the alliance command confirmed that the non-stop trafficking of missiles into the Yemeni territories comes from the lack of control and monitoring system at Al-Hodeida port in western Yemen, “as well as the misuse of permits granted by the alliance to relief and goods shipments.”
The coalition “missile trafficking” is going on because of “the world community’s failure to take a decision to prevent such violations that prolong the war and endanger the lives of civilians.”
“The alliance reiterates its support for the decision of the legitimate Yemeni government for the endeavor of the UN envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Al-Chieck to impose control on this vital sea outlet,” the coalition statement said.
Earlier, the Saudi-led coalition urged the UN to take control of Hodeida port to enable the continuous flow of humanitarian support for civilians, but the UN refused to take responsibility.
The Iran-backed Houthis have continued to disrupt operation at the key port despite an offensive by the coalition.
Thursday’s missile attack was the second to be aimed at Makkah.
On October 27, 2016, a Houthi missile launched from Yemen toward the holy city was also shot down by Saudi air defense forces before it could reach the holy city.
Houthi forces have also launched numerous attacks on various targets mostly along the Saudi border with Yemen, killing more than a hundred soldiers and civilians.
Saudi Arabia, along with the United Emirates, organized the coalition in 2015 to support the UN-recognized government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi amid an onslaught of Houthi militias and loyalist forces of former Yemen president Ali Abdullah Saleh.
The coalition has accused Iran of arming the Houthis as part of Tehran’s destabilization efforts in the region.