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Houthi attacks on Riyadh 'violated laws of war', says rights group

Houthis have frequently shelled densely populated areas killing and wounding civilians
More than 20,000 people came out to support Houthi attacks on Saudi (Reuters)

Houthi forces in Yemen violated the laws of war by launching ballistic missiles at populated areas in Saudi Arabia, Human Rights Watch said on Monday.

Last month, Houthi rebels fired several ballistic missiles into populated areas inside Riyadh which Saudi air defences "intercepted".

The attacks killed an Egyptian migrant worker and injured two others in Riyadh, the official Saudi Press agency reported. 

Pro-Houthi outlets confirmed the attacks with the Iranian-backed rebels vowing to fire more missiles into Saudi unless it stops bombing Yemen. 

Several Western nations, including Washington, Paris, and London, have condemned the Houthi attacks and expressed their support for Riyadh.

In a statement, HRW said the rebel attacks "violated the laws of war" and recalled that since the beginning of the conflict in March 2015, the Houthis have repeatedly bombed areas inhabited by civilians.

"The Houthis must immediately stop their indiscriminate missile attacks on populated areas in Saudi Arabia," said Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW director, recalling that the air raids of the Saudi-controlled coalition, which are causing civilian casualties, are also "illegal".

Saudi Arabia continues to accuse Iran of smuggling weapons, including drones and missiles, to the Houthis, which Tehran denies.

The Houthis have frequently, indiscriminately shelled densely populated areas in Yemen in violation of the laws of war, killing and wounding civilians. These attacks have had a particularly heavy toll on Yemen’s third largest city, Taiz, Human Rights Watch said.

The war in Yemen has killed more than 10,000 people and injured more than 54,000 people, including many civilians, over the past three years, and has led to what the UN calls the "worst humanitarian crisis in the world."

Since March 2015, Riyadh has led a bombing campaign in Yemen to push Houthi rebels out of the capital and reinstall the government of Abd Rabbuh Hadi.

The Saudi-led coalition has launched thousands of air strikes on Yemen in the past three years, some of which have hit hospitals, schools and markets, killing hundreds of civilians while bringing Riyadh little closer to military victory.