Coalition spokesman says rebel bombardment of Gulf kingdom has crossed ‘red line.’
Houthi militias in Yemen have crossed a “red line” and will pay a high price for their deadly bombardments of Saudi Arabia, the Saudi-led coalition said on Thursday.
“The equation is different, the confrontation is different, and they will pay a harsh and expensive price,” coalition spokesman Brigadier General Ahmed al-Assiri told reporters. “The safety of Saudi Arabia is a top priority for the coalition and the Saudi armed forces. It is a red line they crossed.”
Shells fired from Yemen killed five people in the kingdom’s Najran region on Wednesday in a second day of cross-border bombing blamed on the Iran-backed Shia Houthi rebels, civil defense authorities said.
Three others died in a mortar and rocket attack on Najran on Tuesday, the first time the Houthi rebels attacked a Saudi community since the Saudi-led coalition on March 26 began airstrikes against the Houthis and their allies in neighboring Yemen.
In Jazan district adjacent to Najran, a missile killed a husband and wife on Tuesday, the civil defense department said. It was “killing for the sake of killing,” Assiri said.
State television on Thursday reported further strikes but said they landed in an uninhabited area. “Now the confrontation is targeting Saudi Arabia’s borders, targeting Saudi citizens, targeting the safety and security of Saudi cities. Here we confirm that this is unacceptable,” the spokesman added. He said an operation to respond “starts now” and will target “all the leaders of the organization, the areas they gather, their leadership locations, and the planners. And it will not be a limited operation.”
The Houthi stronghold of Saada, in northern Yemen, will be among the areas in the coalition’s sights, Assiri said.
Hours earlier, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir proposed a five-day ceasefire to allow aid into Yemen but said the Houthis would have to abide by it.
The coalition took action in March after Riyadh feared the Houthis would take over all of Yemen and pull it into the orbit of the kingdom’s Shia regional rival Iran.