Saudis accuse Iran of possible ‘act of war’

Riyadh: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has accused Iran of an act of “direct military aggression” by supplying missiles to rebels in Yemen for carrying out a missile strike on the Saudi capital.

This “may be considered an act of war”, the state media quoted the prince as telling UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson in a telephone conversation, the BBC reported on Tuesday.

The missile was fired from Yemen on Saturday by the Houthis, a rebel group with ties to Iran that has been battling a Saudi-led military coalition.

Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Monday that Saudi Arabia’s “wars of aggression” and “regional bullying” were threatening the Middle East.

According to reports, Houthi rebels had fired a Burkan H2 ballistic missile at King Khaled International Airport, about 850 kilometre from the Yemeni border and 11 kilometre north-east of Riyadh, last week.

Saudi media reported that missile defences intercepted the missile in flight, but that some of its fragments fell inside the airport area. No casualties were reported.

Human Rights Watch said the launch of an indiscriminate missile at a predominantly civilian airport was an apparent war crime.

The official Saudi Press Agency reported on Tuesday that in his telephone call with Prince Mohammed, Johnson had “expressed his condemnation of launching a ballistic missile by Houthi coup militias” and affirmed “Britain’s stand with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in confronting security threats”.

“For his part, the crown prince stressed that the involvement of the Iranian regime in supplying its Houthi militias with missiles is considered a direct military aggression by the Iranian regime and may be considered an act of war against the kingdom,” it added.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told CNN on Monday that Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement, an Iranian proxy, was also involved.

“It was an Iranian missile launched by Hezbollah from territory occupied by the Houthis in Yemen,” he said.