By Arab News
Saudi Arabia denounced Monday a Yemeni militia attack on a US Navy destroyer, saying such terrorist acts would expose international navigation to danger.
The Saudi Press Agency quoted an official source as saying that this “systematic” attack by these Iran-backed militias is to target trade near Bab Al-Mandab Strait.
The US Navy destroyer came under attack earlier Monday when missiles were fired at it in international waters off Yemen. The two missiles, fired in a span of 60 minutes, landed in the water short of the USS Mason, a US military spokesman told Reuters.
The spokesman also added that the US military assessed the missiles came from Houthi-controlled territory in Yemen. The launches came days after an Emirati ship suffered massive damage from a rocket attack.
In a statement, the Navy said no American sailors were injured and no damage was done to the USS Mason, an Arleigh Burke class of guided missile destroyer whose home port is Norfolk, Virginia. Lt. Ian McConnaughey, a spokesman for US Navy Forces Central Command, said it’s unclear if the USS Mason was specifically targeted, though the missiles were fired in its direction over an hour’s time period, starting at around 7 p.m.
An American defense official said the USS Mason used onboard defensive measures after the first missile was fired, but it wasn’t clear if that caused the missile to splash harmlessly into the sea. The destroyer at the time of the missile fire was north of the Bab Al-Mandab Strait, which serves as a gateway for oil tankers headed to Europe through the Suez Canal, the official said.
Meanwhile, Saudi state television aired a brief clip of a projectile that was said to have landed in Taif in the ballistic missile attack. The video shows the flash of an explosion, followed by images of emergency vehicles. Taif is home to King Fahad Air Base, which hosts US military personnel training the Kingdom’s armed forces.
The Saudi military said the missile fired late Saturday night was intercepted and caused no damage. The US military’s Central Command, which oversees troops in the Middle East, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Al-Masirah, a satellite news channel run by the Houthis, identified the missile as a local variant of a Soviet-era Scud missile. It said the Volcano-1 missile targeted the air base.
The Houthis have fired a series of ballistic missiles in the Kingdom since a Saudi-led coalition of Arab countries has launched an offensive against them in Yemen in March 2015.
Most of those ballistic missiles have hit areas far closer to Saudi Arabia’s border with Yemen, like an attack Friday night that targeted the southwestern city of Khamis Mushait.
In the Taif attack, however, the missile struck a target more than 520 km from the border. Taif also is just outside the holy city of Makkah.
The Saudi military also said it earlier intercepted another ballistic missile fired Sunday on the Yemeni city of Marib.
Separately, three pro-government fighters were killed “by mistake” in Yemen in an airstrike by the coalition supporting them against rebels, loyalist military sources said Monday.
Four others were also wounded in the strike on a position held by forces loyal to President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi in a mountainous area between the Abyan and Bayda provinces, they said.