JEDDAH: Saudi air defense forces intercepted a ballistic missile launched by Yemen’s Houthi militias on Thursday night toward the holy city of Makkah, according to the Arab Coalition command.
In a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency, the coalition command said the missile was shot down over Al-Wasliya area in Taif province, some 69 kilometers away from the holy city. No damage or injuries were reported.
The missile attack was “clearly a desperate attempt to disrupt the Hajj season,” said the statement.
The alliance command confirmed that the non-stop trafficking of missiles into Yemeni territory comes from the lack of control and monitoring 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 said that “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 operations at the key port despite an offensive by the coalition.
Thursday’s missile attack was the second to be aimed at Makkah. On Oct. 27, 2016, a Houthi missile launched from Yemen toward the holy city was shot down by Saudi air defense forces before it could reach its target.
Houthi forces have also launched numerous attacks on other targets, mostly along the Saudi border with Yemen, killing more than 100 soldiers and civilians.
Saudi Arabia, along with the UAE, 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 Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
The coalition has accused Iran of arming the Houthis as part of Tehran’s destabilization efforts in the region.
The secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Yousef Al-Othaimeen, stated that the outrageous attempted assault on Makkah once again, after the first attempt last year in October, undoubtedly affirms the insistence of the Houthi and Saleh militias to target the holy sites in the Kingdom in implementation of conspiratorial plans against the country, its citizens and residents.
He described it as a futile attempt to destabilize the Hajj season, and an attack on all Muslims in the world, given the sacred city’s holiness as the cradle of revelation.
Al-Othaimeen said that this attack reflects very clearly the lack of seriousness on the part of the Houthi and Saleh militias to end the conflict in Yemen through peaceful means.
He reiterated the support of the OIC for the legitimate Yemeni government and for the efforts of the UN to find political solutions that will guarantee the security and stability of Yemen, while preserving its unity and territorial integrity.
He also reaffirmed the organization’s support for the ongoing efforts by Saudi Arabia to bring about peace in Yemen and to support its legitimate institutions. He affirmed the full solidarity of the OIC in all steps and measures the Kingdom takes to safeguard the country’s security and stability.