Late Sunday night, a ballistic missile (BM) hit a Saudi military camp located to the west of Al-Mazahimiyah, a town near Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Yemeni journalist Hussain Albukhaiti, who spoke to local sources, confirmed this to Delhi Defence Review.
The missile, a Borkan-I, was fired by Yemeni Rebel forces at around 8.00 PM GMT and is being claimed by them to have hit its intended target with precision. Saudi government sources are yet to comment on the attack. In any event, this BM attack, though hardly the first by Yemeni Rebels (comprising Houthi forces and militias loyal to erstwhile Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh) on Saudi targets in recent times, does represent an escalation in the War in the Arabian Peninsula. Saudi Arabia, which intervened in the Yemeni Civil War in 2015, while leading a coalition of many other West Asian countries, is increasingly seeing targets deep within its own territory being subject to long-range BM attacks by Yemeni Rebels.
The Borkan-I BM is believed be a solid-fuelled Russian Scud derivative, with a length of 12.5 meters (m), a diameter of 0.88 m, a weight of 8 tons and is claimed to have a range of 800 kilometres. Though, the ‘Operations Command’ of Yemen’s Rebel Army unveiled the missile in Yemeni colours last year (pictured below), it is believed to have been developed with significant Iranian input. Iranian advisers may also be involved in helping Yemeni Rebel units deploy the Borkan-I.
Source: PressTV (Both Images)
Nevertheless, Yemen’s SABA News agency quoted a Houthi spokesperson declaring the BM attack to be a ‘successful test-fire of a precision long-distance ballistic missile.’ In late January 2017, a Borkan-I reportedly struck a joint Saudi-UAE military base on Zuqar Island in the Red Sea, killing some 80 coalition soldiers, although this attack was neither confirmed nor denied by the Saudi-led coalition. Earlier in late October 2016, right after a Borkan-I attack on the King Abdulaziz International Airport, located 19 kilometers north of the Saudi port city of Jeddah, Yemeni Rebels had warned that an attack on Riyadh was likely in the near future.
Indeed, a Houthi statement after last night’s attack read: ‘We stress that the capital of [expletive] Saudi Arabia is now in the range of our missiles and, God willing, what is coming will be greater’.
Saudi Arabia has of course deployed US supplied MIM-104 Patriots on its territory to counter BM attacks even as it has intensified coalition airstrikes on Yemeni Rebel forces inside Yemen. While in the past it has claimed shoot downs of the Borkan-I by its Patriot air defence units, the latest attack may lead to Saudi Arabia bolstering its missile defences with the import of newer terminal anti-ballistic missile (ABM) defences.
At the moment, social media is rife with speculation that the Saudis may attempt to cover-up last night’s attack and that a state of emergency has been declared in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
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