Houthis threaten to attack Saudi cities if Yemen war not halted

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Rebel leader says modified missiles are now capable of reaching cities and targets across Saudi Arabia

The Houthis say they have modified Borkan missiles and they can now reach targets 1,000km away (AFP)
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Thursday 10 August 2017 13:14 UTC
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A senior Houthi general has warned that if the war against Yemen is not halted, the rebels will start targeting cities and oil facilities across Saudi Arabia.

General Aziz Rashid, who is the deputy spokesman of the Houthi rebel forces, condemned the US for supporting the now two-year war against Yemen, and said that "if they don't cease their aggression, we will go for conquering Saudi cities", according to the semi-official Iranian Fars News Agency.

Rashid said the Houthis have collected information on "sensitive" and "vital" sites across Saudi Arabia, in particular oil and economic centres.

The Houthis have modified Borkan missiles, he added, and they can now reach all "designated targets" in Saudi Arabia.

"The Borkan missiles could strike close-range targets first, but now they can hit any spot in Saudi Arabia as far as 1,000km after we made some changes on them," Rashid said.

"We have a bank of strategic targets in Saudi Arabia and will move to strike them unless they give up their hostile move against us; otherwise, they will sustain heavy economic damage," he said.

The Saudi-led war on Yemen has claimed at least 10,000 lives, according to the UN, and caused a cholera outbreak which is killing around 30 people each day.

The Houthis have repeatedly struck targets in Saudi Arabia, near the Yemeni border, including army bases and oil facilities, and in May, Saudi Arabia's US-made Patriot missile defence system intercepted a Houthi missile outside the capital.

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In a recent report, intelligence firm Stratfor noted that the Houthis' "Borkan missiles are also likely modifications of missiles previously in the Yemeni arsenal".

"In pictures, the missiles appear to be similar in shape and dimensions of Scud missiles. Yemeni forces are likely modifying Scud missiles in the same way North Korea, Iran and Iraq did before them."

But it expressed scepticism over the extent of the Houthi claims.  

"If a number of these Borkan missiles really are capable of reaching Mecca, Riyadh or other cities, as claimed, regardless of whether they strike their targets, then Yemeni engineers really are pushing the boundaries of what simple modifications to Scud missiles can achieve."

Rashid was speaking to Iran's Mehr news agency on Wednesday.

Middle East Eye has recently reported that thousands of Yemenis are being recruited by Saudi Arabia to defend its borders against Houthi rebels, as Saudi forces stay far from the fighting, orchestrating air attacks on Yemeni targets.