Yemen rebels deny their missile targeted holy city of Mecca
Yemen’s Shiite rebels and their allies fired a ballistic missile deep into Saudi Arabia, an overnight strike that they said on Friday had targeted an international airport while the kingdom claimed that it flew toward the holy Muslim city of Mecca.
Saudi Arabia said the missile was “intercepted and destroyed” 40 miles from Mecca, which is home to the cube-shaped Kaaba that the world’s Muslims pray toward five times a day.
Angry Saudis soon denounced the missile fire online with hashtags questioning the faith of Yemen’s Shiite rebels known as Houthis, as other Sunni Arab leaders in the Gulf linked the attack to Shiite power Iran.
Invoking Mecca also invigorated support for Saudi Arabia as it leads the stalemated war in the Arab world’s poorest country, as well as turned attention away from those starving under a kingdom-led blockade and the civilians killed in its airstrikes.