Saudi-led coalition says thwarts Houthi attack on oil tanker

Houthi militants

Spokesperson of the Arab coalition forces Colonel Turki al-Maliki, said that the missile targeted civilian and populated areas.

Iran has strongly denied arming the Huthis and in December 2017 accused the USA of presenting "fabricated" evidence that a November 4 missile fired at Riyadh airport was Iranian-made.

The rebel-run news agency Saba gave the same toll and accused the coalition of using cluster bombs in that attack in Kataf city.

The Red Sea is a key shipping route for world trade that connects the Middle East to Europe via the Suez Canal.

The Saudi-led coalition has been trying since the start of the war in March 2015 to capture Hodeidah, Yemen's biggest port, which receives 80 percent of Yemen's imports, and has in recent weeks launched a ground campaign and intensified air strikes. The Bab al-Mandab Strait is the southern entrance to the Red Sea.

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Last week, the Saudi-led coalition announced it had intercepted a missile also fired at Najran from inside Yemeni territory.

"If the aggressors keep pushing toward Hodeidah and if the political solution hits wall, there are some strategic choices that will be taken as a no return point, including blocking the global navigation in the Red Sea", Houthis' Ansarullah political council chief, Saleh al-Samad, was quoted saying.

Maliki said the United Nations should take the initiative and take control of the port from the armed group.

Iran-backed Huthi rebels, who are locked in a war with Yemen's Saudi-backed government, said they shot down the plane over Saada, their northern Yemeni stronghold, according to their Al-Masirah television channel.

The war has killed more than 10,000 Yemenis, mostly civilians, and pushed the country to the brink of mass starvation.

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