Saudi coalition to keep Yemen’s main port open despite Riyadh missile attack

The Houthi-backed Al Masirah television network said the missile was intended to hit the Saudi royal palace in Riyadh



The Saudi coalition in Yemen has said it will keep the country’s main port open despite a missile attack that targeted Riyadh on Tuesday.

The coalition said it intercepted the missile fired by opposing Houthi rebel forces in Yemen yesterday in an attack described by coalition spokesperson colonel Turki al-Maliki as targeting civilian and populated areas.

The Houthi-backed Al Masirah television network later said the missile was intended to hit a “meeting of the leadership of the Saudi regime in al-Yamama Palace in Riyadh” where the kingdom was preparing to announce its 2018 budget.

Read: Saudi coalition intercepts missile fired towards Riyadh

The kingdom previously used a November 4 missile attack that was fired towards Riyadh’s airport to justify a blockade of Yemen’s entry points, which it said were being used to ship Iranian arms.

In a statement today, however, it announced “the continuation of opening Hudaydah port to humanitarian and relief supplies and allowing the entry of commercial ships, including fuel and food vessels” for 30 days to implement UN aid proposals.

Saudi Arabia and the United States claim the missiles fired by the Houthis are being supplied by Iran.

US envoy to the United Nations (UN) Nikki Haley presented the wreckage of a previous missile attack last week claimed to show the components were Iranian.

Haley said yesterday the latest attack “bears all the hallmarks of previous attacks using Iranian-provided weapons”.

In the wake of last month’s blockade, US President Donald Trump asked Saudi Arabia to immediately allow humanitarian aid to reach Yemen amid humanitarian concerns of disease and famine.

Aid agencies have warned that about eight million people in the country are on the brink of famine with outbreaks of cholera and diphtheria.

Read: Trump asks Saudi Arabia to allow immediate aid to Yemen

The Saudi-led coalition entered the Yemen civil war on the side of the internationally-recognised government of Abdrabu Mansur Hadi in 2015 to oppose the Iranian-backed Shia Houthi group and forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Saleh was killed in an attack on his convoy by Houthi forces earlier this month after switching to the coalition’s side, ending hopes of a swift end to the conflict.

Read: Slain Yemen ex-leader’s son calls for revenge

At least 10,000 people have died in the country since the war began.