Houthi rebels in Yemen Thursday fired a ballistic missile toward the holy city of Makkah in Saudi Arabia, but it was intercepted by ground defenses before it could do any damage, the official Saudi Press Agency reported.
The missile was downed about 40 miles from Makkah. Coalition jet fighters then attacked and destroyed the rocket launchers in Saada believed responsible for the attack.
Houthis also targeted al-Taif in the southern Makkah region. That missile also was destroyed, the Kuwaiti news agency KUNA reported.
Yemeni Prime Minister Ahmed Obeid bin Daghr blamed Iran for the escalating militia violence, accusing Tehran of training thousands of Houthi fighters in Iran and Beirut, Arab News reported.
“The war in Yemen did not start on March 26, 2015. It, in fact, started when Houthis raised the guns against their political rivals and against the state with clear support from Iran, which trained around 6,000 Houthis in Iran or in Beirut under military experts,” Bin Daghr said following a meeting with French Ambassador to Yemen Christian Tisti.
Saudi Arabia has been spearheading a coalition to oust the rebels. Tensions increased in recent weeks after coalition planes bombed a community hall where a funeral was being held, killing 140 people, many of them Houthi officials.
Saudi Arabia has accused Iran of sending weapons to the rebels in violation of U.N. resolutions. Four shipments have been intercepted since April 2015.
“We know they came from Iran and we know the destination,” U.S. Vice Admiral Kevin Donegan told reporters. The shipments included AK-47 assault rifles, anti-tank missiles, sniper rifles and other equipment.
U.S. Gen. Joseph Votel last week accused Iran of playing a role in Red Sea missile attacks against U.S. warships. Houthi rebels are suspected of having fired surface-to-surface missiles at the USS Mason at least twice last month. U.S. cruise missiles took out Houthi radar sites Oct. 13.