Saudis Claim US Patriot Missiles Activated In Major Yemeni Houthi Attack On Riyadh

Houthi rebels in Yemen over the weekend launched what's being described as among the largest assaults on Saudi Arabia since the start of the war five years ago.

Starting on Saturday the Saudi military said it intercepted at least two ballistic missiles over the capital of Riyadh, as well as over the southern city of Jizan, in the first such major attack in more than a year. 

Saudi military spokesman Turki al-Malki confirmed there were injuries among residents on the ground from "debris scattering on some residential areas" in Riyadh and Jizan.  

Over the past months the US has bolstered its Patriot missile batteries in Saudi Arabia to "counter Iran". 

Saudi press agency SPA later said "two civilians were slightly injured due to the falling of the intercepted missile's debris as it exploded in mid-air over residential districts".

At least three blasts were heard in Riyadh during the attack, followed by the blare of emergency sirens. Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya television also indicated significantly that US-supplied Patriot missiles were activated during the attack.

On Sunday a military spokesman for Yemen's Houthi movement confirmed responsibility for the major attack, saying, “the joint military operation of the missile force and the Air Force managed to target a number of sensitive targets in the capital of the Saudi enemy, Riyadh, with Zulfiqar missiles, and a number of Samad-3 aircraft.”

Houthi missile launch on Riyadh

“The major military operation also targeted a number of economic and military targets in Jizan, Najran and Asir, with a large number of Badr missiles and 2K bombers,” he added.

The Houthi military spokesman warned: “The Saudi regime will suffer from these painful operations if it continues its aggression and siege on Yemen,” and promised to keep up the pressure, noting “the armed forces will reveal the details of the wide and qualitative military operation in the coming days.”

However, one military analyst cited by Al Jazeera dismissed the weekend operations as a major PR initiative by the Houthis geared toward "appearing stronger than they are".