Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels fired four missiles at Saudi Arabia during the annual Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina. The Saudi military reports it intercepted all four missiles.
The most recent Houthi missile attack on Thursday targeted the Jizan province in southwestern Saudi Arabia.
The Houthis took responsibility for the attack and said they were targeting a “new Saudi army camp” near the Yemeni border.
The Saud-led Arab coalition intervening in Yemen’s civil war disagreed and said the missile was aimed at residential neighborhoods in Jizan city. The coalition also said the missile attack demonstrates Iran continues to illegally supply the Houthi insurgency with weapons.
The Houthis, in turn, on Thursday charged the Saudi coalition with killing at least 22 children and four women with airstrikes on a refugee camp near the Red Sea port of Hodeidah, which may prove to be the site of a decisive battle in the Yemeni civil war.
The United Arab Emirates, a partner in the Saudi coalition, said a ballistic missile was launched from the district struck by the airstrikes. According to one account relayed by Al-Jazeera, people living in the refugee camp knew the Houthis were using them as human shields for missile launchers and chose to flee the area, only to be caught in the ensuing air attack.
The Saudi Air Defense force announced it has deployed U.S.-made Patriot interceptor missiles around Mecca to protect Muslim pilgrims. The Houthis have directly targeted Mecca with long-range missiles in the past.
Despite the ongoing conflict, Yemen’s religious ministry estimated 24,000 Yemenis made the Hajj pilgrimage this year, including 7,000 from areas controlled by the Houthis. Religious affairs minister Ahmad Attiyah accused the Houthis of lying about Saudi Arabia politicizing the pilgrimage and blocking visitors from Yemen.