Saudi Arabia air defense units intercept ballistic missile fired by Houthi militia on Najran

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The Patriot missile system is a high-velocity interceptor that defends against incoming threats including tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and aircraft. (Courtesy of Lockheed Martin)
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Components of the rocket shot down by Saudi Royal Air Force units near Najran. (AN Photo)
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Components of the rocket shot down by Saudi Royal Air Force units near Najran. (AN Photo)
Updated 12 January 2018

Saudi Arabia air defense units intercept ballistic missile fired by Houthi militia on Najran

LONDON: Royal Saudi Arabia Air Defense forces intercepted a ballistic missile over the southern province of Najran, bordering Yemen, on Thursday.
Yemen's Shiite rebels say they fired the missile targeting a special forces camp and a facility for helicopter gunships in the Saudi border province of Najran.
The media arm of the rebels, known as the Houthis, said Thursday's projectile was a Qaher 2-M ballistic missile.
The Saudi-led coalition spokesperson Colonel Al-Maliki confirmed that the missile had been fired in the direction of the city of Najran and was deliberately launched to target civilian and populated areas, before being intercepted. Al-Maliki also stated that there had been no loss of life or casualties in the incident.
It is the latest act of aggression on the border. Last month, Houthi militias fired a ballistic missile at Riyadh, targeting Al-Yamamah Royal Palace in the Saudi capital.
While in November, militias launched a missile targeting King Khalid International Airport. 
Saudi air defense intercepted the missile and shot it down without causing any damage.
Houthi aggression toward Saudi Arabia has increased in recent months and has caused a global outcry with a number of countries and organizations condemning the launch of ballistic missiles targeting the Kingdom.
Meanwhile, Houthi militias have threatened to cut off Red Sea shipping routes, with Yemeni minister Abdul-Raqib Fat’h calling it a “flagrant” challenge to the rule of law.
Saudi-led coalition forces and their Yemeni allies last year regained control of several strategic ports, waging an assault against the Houthis. The Saudi Navy has also engaged in numerous mine-sweeping missions on Yemeni shores, amid warnings over explosives planted by the militias.


Lebanon repatriates nationals in rare flights despite virus

Updated 33 min 38 sec ago

Lebanon repatriates nationals in rare flights despite virus

  • Health personnel in protective gear took the temperature of disembarking passengers
  • Authorities said more than 20,000 had signed up to be repatriated in total this week and at the end of the month

BEIRUT: Lebanon on Sunday started repatriating nationals stranded abroad in its first flight in weeks since it closed its international airport to stem the novel coronavirus.
The first of four planes touched down at the Beirut international airport late Sunday morning bringing in 78 passengers from Riyadh, local television reported.
It showed health personnel in protective gear taking the temperature of disembarking passengers.
The Mediterranean country announced a lockdown and closed its airport on March 18 as part of measures to curb the spread of COVID-19, which has officially infected 527 people and killed 18 nationwide.
An AFP photographer saw a dozen buses outside the airport waiting to transport the passengers.
Prime Minister Hassan Diab had arrived earlier amid heavy deployment of the Lebanese army, he said.
Authorities said more than 20,000 had signed up to be repatriated in total this week and at the end of the month.
Lebanese carrier Middle East Airlines has said flights would also land in Beirut on Sunday from Abu Dhabi, Lagos and Abidjan.
It has also announced return trips to Paris, Madrid and Kinshasa on Tuesday.
Lebanese returning home must either test negative for the virus no longer than three days before their return, or be tested immediately upon arrival, according to government guidelines.
They must pay for their own ticket and their families are not allowed to meet them at the airport.
The government has said priority will be given to those with critical health conditions such as diabetes or cancer, those aged over 60 and under 18, and families.
But critics have complained of steep ticket fares, while a financial crisis has severely restricted transactions from Lebanese bank accounts.
Coronavirus is the latest crisis to hit Lebanon, which is already reeling under a crumbling economy.
Due to an acute liquidity crisis, banks have since September increasingly been restricting access to dollars and have halted money transfers abroad.
On Monday, however, the banking association agreed to allow dollar transfers to Lebanese students outside the country to help them face the coronavirus pandemic, the finance ministry said.
Diab on Sunday told reporters the government was studying the possibility of supporting returning Lebanese students with a ticket.
Lebanese expatriates and activists have clamoured online for MEA to lower the price of its tickets and help those who can’t afford it.
The airline on Friday claimed tickets were more expensive — $650 for an economy class seat from Riyadh and $1,800 for a cheaper fare from Abidjan for example — because planes would be empty on the way out to evacuations.