Saudi Arabia says it intercepted armed drone launched by Yemen rebels

The Saudi-led military coalition intercepted and destroyed an armed drone.
The Saudi-led military coalition intercepted and destroyed an armed drone.PHOTO: AFP

RIYADH (AFP) - Saudi Arabia intercepted an armed drone launched towards the kingdom by Yemen's Houthis, state media said on Sunday (Feb 7), a day after the United States moved to delist the rebels as a terrorist group.

The Saudi-led military coalition "intercepted and destroyed an armed drone", said spokesman Turki al-Maliki in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency.

"It was launched systematically and deliberately by the terrorist Houthi militia to target civilians and civilian objects in the south of the region."

The incident was not immediately claimed by the Iran-backed Houthis.

The US State Department last Friday said it had formally notified Congress of its intention to revoke a terrorist designation against the rebels, which had been announced at the end of the administration of former president Donald Trump.

The delisting move came a day after President Joe Biden announced an end to US support for Saudi-led offensive operations in Yemen.

Humanitarian groups were deeply opposed to the designation, saying it jeopardised their operations in a country where the majority of people rely on aid, and that they have no choice but to deal with the Houthis, who control much of the north.

Saudi Arabia, which entered the Yemen conflict in 2015 to bolster the internationally recognised government, has repeatedly been targeted with cross-border attacks.

Last month, it said it had intercepted and destroyed a "hostile air target" heading towards the capital Riyadh.