A ballistic missile launched from Yemen apparently targeted a Saudi air base near the Muslim holy city of Mecca, Saudi and rebel media reported Monday, the deepest strike yet into the kingdom by Shiite rebels and their allies.
Saudi state television aired a brief clip of what appeared to be a projectile landing in Taif and the flash of an explosion, following by images of emergency vehicles. Taif is home to Saudi Arabia’s King Fahad Air Base, which hosts U.S. military personnel training the kingdom’s armed forces.
The Saudi military said the missile fired late Saturday night caused no damage. The U.S. 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 Yemen’s Shiite rebels known as 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 Saudi Arabia since a kingdom-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 targeting the southwestern city of Khamis Mushait.
In the Taif attack, however, the missile struck a target more than 520 kilometers (325 miles) from the border. Taif also is just outside of Mecca, which is home to the cube-shaped Kaaba that all of the world’s Muslims pray toward.
The Saudi military also said it earlier intercepted another ballistic missile fired Sunday on the Yemeni city of Marib.
Houthis gave no reason for their targeting of Taif, but it comes after a Saudi-led airstrike Saturday targeting a funeral in Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, killed over 140 people and wounded 525. On Sunday, thousands marched through the streets of Sanaa to protest the strike, one of the deadliest single attacks in the impoverished Arab country’s relentless civil war.
Yemen’s war is largely overshadowed by the conflict against the Islamic State group elsewhere in the Middle East, though rights groups have mounted increased criticism of the Saudi-led airstrikes in recent months for killing civilians. The U.N. and rights groups estimate the conflict has killed at least 9,000 people and displaced nearly 3 million more.