Saudi-led coalition warns of ‘painful’ response over Yemen drones

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RIYADH (AFP) – A Saudi-led coalition battling Yemen s Huthi rebels warned them on Monday of a “painful” response if they mounted new attacks on Saudi Arabia using what it said were Iran-supplied drones.

Riyadh said last week it had shot down two drones in the south of the kingdom as well as intercepting ballistic missiles fired from rebel-held parts of Yemen, the latest in a series of similar incidents.

“If the Huthis continue targeting industrial or residential facilities, the response will be hard and painful,” said coalition spokesman Turki al-Malki, displaying what he claimed were remnants of the intercepted aircraft.

Malki told reporters in the eastern city of Al-Khobar that the airport of rebel-held capital Sanaa was used as a military base to orchestrate the drone strike.

The Saudi-backed Yemeni government last week said the drones were “made in Iran”, adding that Yemen s military did not possess such aircraft and it was “impossible to manufacture them locally”.

Iran backs the Huthis, who seized the capital Sanaa in 2014, prompting a Saudi-led military coalition to intervene against the rebels the following year.

But Tehran has repeatedly denied arming the rebels, which would violate a United Nations weapons embargo slapped on Yemen in 2015.

Riyadh said its air defences between Wednesday and Friday intercepted five ballistic missiles and two drones launched from rebel-held northern Yemen.

Saudi Arabia in March 2015 launched a coalition of Arab states fighting to roll back the Huthis in Yemen and restore the country s internationally-recognised government to power.

Nearly 10,000 people have since been killed in Yemen s conflict, in what the United Nations has called the world s worst humanitarian crisis.

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