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Saudi Arabia intercepts ‘hostile air target’ going toward Riyadh

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The file photo shows a view of Saudi Arabia’s capital, Riyadh. (Photo by AFP)

Saudi Arabia says it has intercepted an apparent missile or drone strike over Riyadh, after a blast was heard in the Saudi capital on Saturday morning.

The so-called Saudi-led coalition, which initiated an ongoing war against Yemen in 2015, said it “intercepted and destroyed a hostile air target going towards Riyadh,” Al Jazeera reported, citing state-run Al Ekhbariya television station.

A number of flights were also delayed on the same day, Riyadh’s King Khaled International Airport said, without elaborating.

The government in Sanaa, which is under the control of the Houthi Ansarullah movement, has repeatedly carried out attacks deep in Saudi Arabia in retaliation for the kingdom’s bloody military campaign against Yemen.

Houthis deny involvement

However, later in the day, the Yemeni Army said it did not carry any attack against the “aggressive countries” in the past 24 hours.

Yemen’s Army spokesman, Brigadier General Yahya Saree, said his country reserves the “natural and legitimate right” to respond to the aggressive countries as long as they continue their aggression and siege against Yemen.

Saree also said the Yemeni armed forces announce any operation they carry out against the Saudi-led coalition with “pride and honor”.

تنبه القوات المسلحة اليمنية أنها لم تنفذ أية عملية هجومية ضد دول العدوان خلال ال24 ساعة الماضية.
كما نؤكد أن من حقنا الطبيعي والمشروع الرد على دول العدوان طالما استمر العدوان والحصار وأن القوات المسلحة اليمنية تقوم بالإعلان عن أية عملية تنفذها بكل فخر وشرف واعتزاز.

— العميد يحيى سريع (@army21ye) January 23, 2021

The Saudi-led military campaign against Yemen was launched in hopes of reinstalling Yemen’s former pro-Riyadh government. Six years on, the war has killed tens of thousands of Yemeni civilians, including women and children.

Last week, Yemen’s Foreign Minister Hisham Sharaf Abdullah warned Saudi Arabia that it cannot expect to stay safe from retaliation.

“Those, who mobilize their militants towards Yemen with the goal of causing death and destroying its cities and villages, cannot expect us to respond by waving at them and sending them flowers and peace doves,” Abdullah said.

Earlier this month, the administration of former US President Donald Trump, who was a close ally of Riyadh, announced the designation of the Houthi Ansarullah movement as a terrorist group.

But the new administration of President Joe Biden announced on Friday that it has started to review the designation.

“As noted by Secretary-Designate [Anthony] Blinken, the State Department has initiated a review of Ansarullah’s terrorist designations,” a spokesperson at the State Department said.

“We will not publicly discuss or comment on internal deliberations regarding that review; however, with the humanitarian crisis in Yemen we are working as fast as we can to conduct the review and make a determination,” the spokesperson added.

It came after worldwide condemnations directed at the Trump administration’s decision and calls on the Biden administration to reverse it.

In an interview with Press TV, Abdullah said Trump might have received huge sums of money for the move, saying Washington is not entitled to blacklist others.

During the interview, which was broadcast late on Thursday, the Yemeni foreign minister advised the new US leaders to be concerned with their own domestic affairs than to meddle in other countries’ issues.

The top Yemeni diplomat called on Biden to reverse Trump’s decisions and to put an end to the ongoing Saudi war on Yemen.

“If Biden displays courage, something which I think it has, they should declare that the war is over and stop their support for Saudis, Emiratis and any other party involved. The war will consequently stop, and Mr. Biden would probably win the Nobel Peace Prize that Trump had long yearned for,” he remarked.

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