The proxy war in Syria between Iran and Saudi Arabia became more direct on Saturday as a SCUD missile fired by Yemeni Shiite rebels into Saudi Arabia was shot down by the Saudi’s early Saturday, according to the country’s official news agency.
The event is highly significant as it is the first use of a missile in the war between Saudi forces and Iran-allied Houthi rebels. It also indicates the level of support the Houthis are receiving, as the SCUD missiles likely came from Iran.
The missile, launched at the southwestern city of Khamis Mushait, was intercepted by a Patriot missile battery, according to the Saudi Press Agency.
Saudi Arabia has been bombing Houthi rebels since March in what has become a battle between Saudi Arabia and Iran over control of the region.
The bloody conflict has claimed over 2,000 lives. Saudi Arabia is seeking to restore the government of ousted President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi but the offensive has so far failed to stop rebel advances in southern Yemen or force their withdrawal from any territory they hold.
The Iranian sponsored Houthi fighters captured the Yemeni capital of Sana’a in September and seized the presidential palace in January. President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi was forced to flee the country.
The missile attack on Saudi soil comes after the Houthi forces launched a ground offensive targeting the Saudi border on Friday. Saudi-owned Al Arabiya described the fighting as the “largest attack” they had seen so far in the conflict.
In addition to the missile attack, four Saudi soldiers and dozens of Houthi rebels were killed near the border on Saturday.