For the third time in roughly seven weeks, Houthi rebels have fired a ballistic missile into Saudi Arabia, according to a spokesperson. The Volcano 2-H missile launched by the Yemeni rebels was reportedly shot down by Saudi air defenses just seconds before striking the al-Yamama royal palace, according to the Sun, which cited local TV news station Al-Arabiya. Houthi-controlled television has claimed that the missile targeted a meeting of Saudi leaders in a palace.
US President Donald Trump notably held meetings with the Saudi king at the al-Yamamah palace during his May trip to the kingdom.
The reports of a missile launch followed tweets by witnesses suggesting that a blast had been heard in the Saudi capital. Images published on social media showed a plume of smoke rising low over the ground near the palace. Witnesses in Riyadh reported hearing a blast and seeing the smoke. Saudi security officials said "there are no reported casualties at this time."
Loud boom heard in central Riyadh -- big enough that we felt it shake our tower. No official statement on cause yet. We're looking into it. #???_??????_??_??????— Vivian Nereim (@viviannereim) December 19, 2017
Heard two loud bangs. Here in #riyadh centre. Anyone with any updates?— Labeeb Aslam (@nottmbantam) December 19, 2017
Houthis launched two ballistic missiles at Saudi Arabia in November, but neither hit their targets. The first, on November 4, was fired at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh while the second was fired at a Saudi oil refinery on November 30.
The Nov. 4 attack on the airport led to a tightening of a longstanding Saudi-led blockade of Yemen, which was already struggling with a devastating famine. As with past incidents involving the Houthis, Saudi accused Iran of supplying the missile to the rebels, a charge Tehran strongly denied. Yemen has been struggling for more than two years with a brutal civil war that has triggered humanitarian crises and tens of thousands of combat-related deaths.
Reports of a ballistic missile just intercepted over Riyadh pic.twitter.com/aZW9LvkfOP— ??????? ?? ???? (@AbdullahKhaledS) December 19, 2017
There were no immediate reports of injuries and there has been no official statement from the Saudi government.