Yemen rebels 'fire surface-to-surface missile into Saudi Arabia'

Yemen rebels 'fire surface-to-surface missile into Saudi Arabia'
Houthi rebels claimed on Sunday they had fired a surface-to-surface missile targeting an airbase in southern Saudi, as fighting continued in Yemen ahead of a ceasefire agreed to start Monday.
2 min read
13 December, 2015
The two-stage rocket was allegedly a locally re-purposed Russian surface-to-air missile [AFP]

Houthi rebels have fired a "ballistic" missile into the King Khaled bin Abdul Aziz airbase in Saudi Arabia on Sunday, a Yemeni military source loyal to the Houthi rebels has claimed.

The official Yemeni News Agency run by the rebels said the rocket, dubbed Qahir-1 [Vanquisher-1], was a locally developed version of a Russian SAM-2 rocket, modified to operate as a surface-to-surface missile.

The rebels claimed the two-stage rocket is 11 metres long and weighs 2 tonnes, and has a range of 250 km.

In Yemen, Saudi-led airstrikes killed 19 Yemeni civilians in bombings of homes and a market on Sunday, residents said, a day before a UN-brokered ceasefire is set to start ahead of peace talks to end eight months of war.

Villagers in al-Hajawara in northern Hajjah province said multiple air bombings killed 12 people inside their homes and wounded 30 others. Residents in the southern district of Qabatiya said 7 civilians were killed in an attack on a market.

A Saudi military spokesman could not be immediately reached for comment.

On the ground, battles raged between the pro-Hadi army and militia, and the rebels in the southern countryside of Taiz.

Sources in the pro-Hadi forces told al-Araby al-Jadeed's Arabic service that they made advances south of Taiz, capturing rebel commanders named as Marwan al-Sayyed and Abdullah al-Quraidi.

This was confirmed by residents in the Najd Qussaim area south of Taiz, who said on Saturday that the pro-Hadi forces were now moving towards a key road in the area.

Yemen's Iran-allied Houthi group is fighting a civil war against loyalists of President Abd-Rabbo Mansour Hadi, whose embattled government has been backed by airstrikes and ground forces from a mainly Gulf Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia.

Half of the nearly 6,000 people killed in the fighting and airstrikes are civilians, including 637 children, according to the United Nations.

A seven-day ceasefire is due to start on Monday, the day before planned UN-sponsored peace talks in Switzerland, senior officials on both sides of the civil war said.

Previous peace talks in June failed and a ceasefire the next month quickly unraveled, but months of stalemate in ground combat and reports of increased pressure by Gulf Arabs' Western allies to end the war may encourage a political settlement.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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