A Saudi-led coalition accused Yemen’s Houthi militia of a “dangerous escalation” on Sunday after Saudi air defense forces intercepted a ballistic missile fired towards Riyadh.
Saudi Arabia also announced financial rewards for information leading to the arrest of 40 leaders it said were responsible for “planning, implementing and supporting the Houthi terrorist group’s various terrorist activities”.
The bounties topped out at $30 million for the armed group’s leader, Abdel-Malek al-Houthi, the state news agency reported.
“The Houthis’ dangerous escalation came because of Iranian support,” coalition spokesman Colonel Turki al-Maliki said in a televised news conference. Rocket launch vehicles used to fire the missile were made in Iran, he added.
Saudi Arabia and its allies accuse arch-foe Iran of supplying missiles and other weapons to the Houthis, saying the arms were not present in Yemen before the conflict began in 2015. Iran denies the charges and blames the conflict on Riyadh.
Two United Nations flights into Yemen have already been blocked.
Deputy UN spokesperson: “We’re trying to see whether we can get our normal access restored and we’re hopeful that we will be able to continue our normal operations. We want to underscore to all parties the need for regular humanitarian access to all parts of Yemen that are in need.”
Al Jazeera’s James Bays: “When you look at the words the UN is using, it’s clear they’re treading carefully. The reality is that Saudi Arabia has been making restrictions on the aid, medicine, and food allowed into Yemen for years.”