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Saudi-led Coalition Intercepts Scud Missile

by VOA News June 06, 2015

Saudi Arabia said the Saudi-led coalition intercepted a scud missile launched into the kingdom's southwestern region from neighboring Yemen by Shi'ite rebels.

The Saudi state news agency said a U.S.-made Patriot missile was used to shoot down the scud early Saturday close to the city of Khamis Mushait. The area is home to the King Khaled air base, the largest air force base in southern Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter, has major oil fields located in the east of the country, far from Khamis Mushait.

Al Masira, the Houthi group's official channel, confirmed the launch and said it targeted the air base.

The United States has provided logistical support to the mostly Sunni Arab coalition. U.S. military officials in the region had no immediate comment.

The scud was launched near the Houthi rebel center of Saada in Yemen's northern mountains, the agency said. It was the first time a long-range ballistic Scud has been used in the conflict, a Saudi military statement said.

Thousands have died since a regional air force coalition began an offensive against Houthi fighters in late March.

Proxy war

The Saudis and Western powers accuse the Houthis of receiving military support from Shi'ite power Iran as part of a larger proxy war between the Sunni kingdom and the Islamic Republic across the Mideast.

Tehran and the rebels deny the allegations, though Iran has acknowledged sending humanitarian aid to the Houthis.

Thousands have died since a regional air force coalition of Gulf Arab nations, led by Saudi Arabia, began bombing Yemen's Houthi militia and allied army units loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh in late March.

Saleh, Yemen's autocrat president from 1978 to 2012, was forced to step down amid Arab Spring street protests but retains most of the army's loyalty and has joined forces with the Houthis in combat against pro-governemtn forces.

The Houthis began their advance in September, sweeping into the Yemeni capital, Sana'a, and taking over government ministries and other areas. They held top officials, including President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, under house arrest until Hadi fled, first to the southern port city of Aden, then to Saudi Arabia as the rebels closed in backed by forces loyal to Saleh.

The coalition is attempting to restore Hadi to power.

Some material for this report came from Reuters and AP.

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