March 8, 2019 / 1:06 PM / 8 months ago

Saudis shoot down drone aimed at kingdom, Saudi TV reports

DUBAI (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia’s air defence systems shot down a drone over the kingdom on Friday, the Saudi-led military coalition in Yemen said, and it accused the country’s Houthi fighters of launching the aircraft and targeting civilians.

    Some civilians suffered light injuries from debris when the drone was shot down, coalition spokesman Colonel Turki al-Maliki said, according to Saudi state television .

    The aircraft had been heading towards residential areas in Abha, around 230 km (140 miles) north of the border with Yemen, Saudi-owned Al Arabiya TV said.

    An inspection of the wreckage showed the drone had “Iranian characteristics and specifications,” Maliki said.

    Civil war in Yemen has pitted the Houthis against the government of Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi since late 2014. The Saudi-led coalition intervened on the side of Hadi’s government in 2015.

The coalition accuses Iran of supplying the Houthis with arms, including drones and missiles. Iran and the Houthis deny the accusations.

Tensions between the warring parties have heightened in recent weeks over a stalled United Nations-led peace deal in the port of Hodeidah. The U.N. is trying to arrange a withdrawal of both sides from Hodeidah, the main entry point for most of Yemen’s imports.

    The Houthis have fired dozens of missiles into Saudi Arabia in the four-year conflict, which is widely seen as a proxy battle between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Most of the missiles have been intercepted by the Saudi military.

Reporting by Sylvia Westall, editing by Larry King

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