Middle East

Yemen crisis: Saudi Arabia 'shoots down' Scud missile

Armed Houthi supporters shout anti-Saudi slogans during a rally in Sanaa on 5 June 2015
Image caption Houthi supporters have been staging rallies against the Saudi-led air raids

Saudi Arabia has shot down a Scud missile fired from across the border by Yemen's Houthi rebels and its allies, the state Saudi Press Agency says.

It was intercepted by a Patriot missile battery near the south-western city of Khamis Mushait in the morning.

On Friday, four Saudi soldiers and many Yemeni rebels died in fighting on the border, the Saudi-led coalition says.

It says forces loyal to Yemen's former president, backed by the Houthis, attacked several Saudi positions.

In a separate development, the Houthis have agreed to attend peace talks in Geneva.

The UN-brokered meeting on 14 June in Switzerland is aimed at ending weeks of war that has claimed more than 2,000 lives.


Scud missile

  • "Entry-level" short-range weapon capable of hitting targets of up to 300km (187 miles)
  • Can carry nuclear, chemical and conventional high-explosive warheads
  • Uses liquid fuel, and is launched vertically from small platform
  • Has high-arcing trajectory: leaves Earth's atmosphere during the powered phase of flight
  • Has notoriously poor accuracy
  • One of the most-used ballistic missiles in history

Scud: 'Entry level' ballistic missile


"We accepted the invitation of the United Nations to go to the negotiating table in Geneva without preconditions," Daifallah al-Shami, a senior member of the rebels' political wing told AFP.

Yemen's government, which is operating from Riyadh, also said it would attend.

Ground attack

A Saudi-led coalition has been bombing rebel positions in Yemen for 10 weeks, in support of the country's exiled president Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi.

The Houthis overran the capital Sanaa last September and have gone on to seize most of the country.

Although there have been previous border skirmishes and deadly rebel fire against Saudi Arabia, Friday's battle is only the second major ground attack reported against Saudi territory.

The rebels "aimed to penetrate our borders", and were eventually repelled, the Saudi statement added.

The humanitarian crisis in Yemen has been described as "catastrophic" by the UN with 20 million civilians - 80% of the population - in need of aid.

At least 21 people have died during violence since Thursday in the Aden area, while there were intense coalition air raids against Daleh and Shabwa provinces.