As the coronavirus pandemic has occupied the world’s attention, Saudi Arabia on Saturday intercepted two ballistic missiles that were allegedly launched by Iran-aligned Houthi rebels in Yemen. The missiles were targeting Saudi Arabia’s capital, Riyadh, along with the city of Jizan. 

“Two civilians were slightly injured due to the falling of the intercepted missile’s debris as it exploded in mid-air over residential districts’’ Saudi Civil Defense spokesman Lt. Colonel Mohammed Al-Hammadi said, with the comments reported by Saudi state media. 

Saudi Arabia has led an intervention in Yemen’s civil war since March 2015, with Riyadh bombing Houthi rebels in the country and backing the government of Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi. The Houthis are covertly backed by Shia Iran, Saudi Arabia’s archrival in the Middle East region, and have a political Islamist agenda. 

Despite the animosity between the Hadi government and the Houthis, the two sides have agreed to a ceasefire to prevent the spread of coronavirus, but the latest attack could resume hostilities. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged parties involved in wars around the globe to stop fighting and focus on the threat of the virus. 

Yemen is the poorest country in the region and has an underdeveloped health infrastructure. Hospitals and other health facilities have been destroyed in Yemen due to the Saudi-led coalition’s bombing campaign against the Houthis, according to a report from the New York-based Physicians for Human Rights on March 18. 

“Saudi-Emirati-led coalition forces have primarily destroyed and damaged hospitals, clinics, vaccination centers and other medical points through aerial attacks,” the report said.

Although there are currently no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Yemen, there have been at least 1,299 cases in Saudi Arabia as of Sunday. 

The coronavirus has impacted other nations in the Middle East experiencing war. On Sunday, Syria’s Health Ministry reported the country’s first death from the virus.