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Houthis deny targeting Makkah with missiles

Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi movement denied Saudi media reports on Monday that it had fired a ballistic missile towards Makkah, Islam’s holiest site, at a time of heightened tensions between Tehran and Gulf Arab states allied to Washington.
“The Saudi regime is trying, through these allegations, to rally support for its brutal aggression against our great Yemeni people,” Houthi military spokesman Yahya Sarea said on Facebook. Saudi Arabia and the UAE are leading a Western-backed coalition of Sunni Muslim states that intervened in Yemen in 2015 to try to restore the internationally recognised government ousted from power in Sanaa by the Houthis in late 2014.
Saudi-owned Al Arabiya TV, citing eyewitnesses, reported that Saudi air defence forces intercepted two ballistic missiles above the western cities of Taif and Jeddah. The first one had been directed towards Mecca, it said, without giving evidence. A spokesman for the Saudi-led military coalition fighting in Yemen did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
More than two million Muslims from around the world make the annual haj pilgrimage to Mecca. Many also visit the city during the holy month of Ramadan, which is currently underway.
Riyadh has accused Iran of ordering last week’s drone strikes on two oil pumping stations in the kingdom, for which the Houthis claimed responsibility.