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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 15 December 2018

UN Security Council condemns Houthi missile attacks on Saudi Arabia

The council expressed alarm at a Houthi threat to continue such attacks in the region

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met with UN chief Antonio Guterres at the UN on March 27, 2018 in New York. Bryan R Smith / AFP
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met with UN chief Antonio Guterres at the UN on March 27, 2018 in New York. Bryan R Smith / AFP

The UN Security Council on Wednesday condemned a barrage of missile attacks against Saudi Arabia by Yemen's Houthi group and expressed grave concern at reports of violations of an UN arms embargo on Houthi leaders.

Saudi forces said they shot down three missiles over Riyadh shortly before midnight on Sunday. Debris fell on a home in the capital, killing an Egyptian man and wounding two others. They said air defences also repelled missiles fired at the southern Saudi cities of Najran, Jizan and Khamis Mushait.

In a statement, the 15-member Security Council expressed alarm at a Houthi threat to continue such attacks in the region.

Sunday's attacks threaten to sharply escalate a war that has unleashed what the UN considers the world's most urgent humanitarian crisis. Millions of Yemenis live under threat of mass starvation and disease, at the mercy of combatants who have sometimes cut off food and medical supplies.

"The members of the Security Council expressed their grave concern at the continued deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Yemen and the devastating humanitarian impact of the conflict on civilians," the statement said.

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The three-year conflict pits a coalition of Arab states friendly to the West against the Houthis, an armed movement backed by Iran. The Houthis control the north of Yemen.

Independent UN experts reported to the Security Council in January that Iran had violated UN sanctions on Yemen because "it failed to take the necessary measures to prevent the direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer" of ballistic missiles and other equipment to the Houthi group.

The UN Security Council statement on Wednesday did not name who is violating the arms embargo.

Last month, Russia vetoed a western bid for the UN Security Council to call out Tehran for failing to prevent its weapons from falling into the hands of the Houthis. Iran has denied supplying the Houthis weapons.

The Trump administration has for months been lobbying for Iran to be held accountable at the UN, while at the same time threatening to quit a 2015 deal among world powers to curb Iran's nuclear programme if "disastrous flaws" are not fixed.