Iranian-Backed Rebels Launch Missile At Saudi Capital

REUTERS/Mohamed al-Sayaghi

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Russ Read Pentagon/Foreign Policy Reporter
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Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Iran claimed Sunday they successfully launched a missile at a Saudi military base just outside of the country’s capital, Riyadh.

The rebels, based in Yemen, claimed they targeted a Saudi military camp approximately 25 miles west of the Saudi capital. Saudi officials denied the missile hit the camp; reports have not been independently verified.

Yemen’s Saba News agency quoted a Houthi leader who claimed the attack was a “successful test-fire of a precision, long-distance ballistic missile.”

“We stress that the capital of [expletive] Saudi Arabia is now in the range of our missiles and, God willing, what is coming will be greater,” said the Houthi government in a statement.

The missile used in the attack was reportedly a modified Soviet-era R-17/Scud-B type, known locally as a “Borkan-1.” It can carry a warhead weighing up to approximately 1,100 pounds. The R-17 is a mainstay in many military arsenals, despite having been developed in the 1950s.

Iran is known to maintain a significant stockpile of Scud missiles. While it is unclear whether or not Iran provided the Houthis the missiles used in the attack, the Islamic Republic’s military support of the Houthi rebellion in Yemen is well known.

The Sunday missile attack is the second in the last week. Another Houthi attack using the same missile killed 80 Saudi and Emirati soldiers on Jan. 31.  The ongoing Houthi rebellion began in June 2004, and has caused a nationwide civil war which has disintegrated Yemen into an anarchic state.

The country has become the primary proxy battleground for Saudi Arabia and Iran, with the Saudis backing the Yemeni government, while the Iranians support the Houthis.

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