TEL AVIV – As fighting in Yemen continues to escalate, the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels have plans to fire ballistic missiles into Riyadh, the capital and largest city of Saudi Arabia, according to Middle Eastern defense officials speaking to WND.
Such a move would be a game-changer in the months-long battle for control of Yemen that already has spilled across the Saudi border.
In June, marking the first use of ballistic missiles by the Houthis in the conflict, the rebels fired a Scud missile at Saudi Arabia, which the kingdom said it shot down. The Houthi rebels and its allied armies had fired the Scud toward the southwest Saudi town of Khamees Mushait, which houses the largest air force base in southern Saudi Arabia.
Three weeks earlier, WND broke the story that, despite the presence of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt off the coast of Yemen at the time, the Iranians succeeded in smuggling Scud B and C missiles to the rebels fighting in Yemen
In August, the Houthis again fired a Scud toward southern Saudi Arabia. The Saudi military said it intercepted the missile and retaliated with air strikes on Yemeni territory.
WND reported in May on the delivery of the Scuds to the Houthi rebels, citing Jordanian security officials. The security officials described the possession of the missiles by the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels as a direct threat to the Saudi kingdom and its oil fields.
The Jordanian officials said the Scuds could endanger Saudi Arabia and potentially disrupt the global oil market.
WND further reported in April the Russian navy aided Iranian ships attempting to bring arms to the Tehran-backed rebels in Yemen, according to informed Middle Eastern defense officials.
The defense officials said the Russian navy ships were maneuvering to create a clear path for the Iranian vessels to bypass the U.S. fleet and arrive in Yemen.
The officials said Saudi Arabia, which backs the embattled Yemeni government, filed a complaint with Moscow about the purported Russian naval movements.
It was not immediately clear where the Russian navy was attempting such a maneuver.
Now Middle Eastern defense officials say the Houthis have plans in the works to fire missiles into Riyadh, home to some 5.7 million people and site of the largest international airport in Saudi Arabia.
On Thursday, as part of their push to retake the Yemeni central city of Marib and the country’s capital, Sanaa, the Saudi-led Arab coalition targeted insurgent positions in those areas. The latest bombardment came hours after the Houthis’ Al-Masirah television aired footage touted as proof that the rebels captured several Saudi troops, including one man who identified himself as being part of a Saudi brigade.
The Associated Press reported from Marib that military vehicles from the United Arab Emirates, a key member of the coalition, “made their way Thursday along a two-lane road between Marib and a sprawling military base further east.”
“The influx of troops and hardware from the Emirates and other Gulf states appears to be adding momentum to the fight to retake territory,” the AP reported.