Saudi forces intercept ballistic missile fired at Riyadh by Yemen's Houthi rebels

Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed to have fired the missile in response to Saudi and American "aggression." The incident came hours before a suicide attack in the southern Yemeni city of Aden killed at least five soldiers.

Saudi Arabia's air defense forces on Saturday evening intercepted a ballistic missile fired from Yemen toward the kingdom's international airport near the capital, Riyadh, state media reported.

The missile was shot down and scattered debris over an uninhabited area without causing damage or casualties.

Read more: Two years on, Saudi intervention in Yemen leaves trail of death

The kingdom's civil aviation authority said flights were unaffected at the King Khalid International Airport, located about 35 kilometers (22 miles) outside the capital.

Media tied to Yemen's Houthi rebels, including al-Masira, claimed a short-range Burkan H2 missile was fired in response to "Saudi-American aggression and crimes against the people of Yemen."

Read more: Yemen: Between conflict and collapse

Houthi rebels have fired dozens of missiles towards Saudi Arabia, but this is the first time Riyadh has been targeted. Riyadh is about 620 miles (1,000 kilometers) north of the border with Yemen.

Quagmire and disaster

A Saudi-led coalition intervened in Yemen in 2015 in a bid to oust Houthi rebels allied with former President Ali Abdullah Saleh after they overran the capital Sanaa and large swaths of the country.

Yemen: An ever-worsening crisis

War: The 'root cause' of Yemen's disasters

The UN has identified conflict as the "root cause" of Yemen's crises. More than 10,000 people have been killed since the conflict erupted in 2014 when Shiite Houthi rebels launched a campaign to capture the capital, Sanaa. In March 2015, a Saudi-led coalition launched a deadly campaign against the rebels, one that has been widely criticized by human rights groups for its high civilian death toll.

Yemen: An ever-worsening crisis

Fighting keeps food from the famished

The conflict has prevented humanitarian aid from reaching large parts of the civilian population, resulting in 60 percent of the country's 28 million people being classified as "food insecure." At least 2.2 million children are acutely malnourished, according to the UN World Food Program. UN chief Antonio Guterres has urged the Security Council to pressure warring parties to allow aid in.

Yemen: An ever-worsening crisis

Displacement: Converging crises

More than 2 million people have been displaced by conflict, including marginalized communities such as the "Muhammasheen," a minority tribe that originally migrated from Africa. Despite the civil war, many flee conflict in Somalia and head to Yemen, marking the convergence of two major migration crises in the Middle East nation. Yemen hosts more than 255,000 Somali refugees, according to UNHCR.

Yemen: An ever-worsening crisis

Cholera: A deadly epidemic

As of October 2017, the number of suspected cholera cases exceeded more than 750,000, and at least 2,135 people had died from the waterborne bacterial infection in Yemen in ten months, said the WHO. Although cholera can be easily treated, it can kill within hours when untreated. By October 2018, over 10,000 cases of cholera were being treated weekly.

Yemen: An ever-worsening crisis

Unsuspecting victims of the'war on terror'

In Yemen, violence goes beyond civil conflict: It is considered a strategic front in the war on terrorism. The country serves as the operational base for al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, dubbed the "most dangerous" terrorist group before the rise of the "Islamic State." The US routinely uses drones to target al-Qaida leadership. However, civilians have often been killed in the operations.

Yemen: An ever-worsening crisis

Children's fate: Future marred by tragedy

In a country paralyzed by conflict, children are one of the most at-risk groups in Yemen. More than 11 million children require humanitarian aid, according to the UN humanitarian coordination agency. The country's education system is "on the brink of collapse," while children are dying of "preventable causes like malnutrition, diarrhea and respiratory tract infections," the agency said in October.

Yemen: An ever-worsening crisis

Peace: An elusive future

Despite several attempts at UN-backed peace talks, the conflict continues to rage on. Saudi Arabia has vowed to continue supporting the internationally recognized government of Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. On the other hand, Houthi rebels have demanded the formation of a unity government in order to move forward on a political solution. But neither side appears ready to compromise.

The Saudi-led coalition is trying to restore power to President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and counter what they say is Iranian influence in Saudi Arabia's backyard.

Riyadh claims the Shiite Houthi rebels are backed by its regional rival Iran. Tehran denies the charges and says it provides only political support.

Related Subjects

More than two years on, the war against Houthi rebels has turned into a quagmire for the kingdom and its Arab allies.

Suicide attack in Aden

Meanwhile, in an attack that underscores the violence of the ongoing conflict in Yemen, five soldiers were killed on Sunday in an assault on a security headquarters in the southern city of Aden.

A security official said an explosives-laden car first blew up outside the headquarters in the central district of Khor Maksar.

A suicide bomber then detonated an explosive belt at the entrance to the building, while gunmen stormed the crime unit, setting files and archives on fire, he said.

It was unclear who was behind the attack, though the official blamed it on al Qaeda operatives.

The port city of Aden has been the interim headquarters of Yemen's internationally recognized government since 2015, after it was forced to move following the Houthi takeover of Sanaa.

Humanitarian crisis

The conflict in Yemen has killed more than 10,000 people have been killed and created one of the world's biggest humanitarian disasters.

The UN has warned of famine and disease, including a cholera outbreak that has claimed more than 2,100 lives in Yemen since April.

The Saudi-led coalition has also implemented an air and sea blockade on Yemen.

The United States backs the Saudi-led coalition with weapons, air refueling and intelligence.

tj/rc (AFP, AP, Reuters)