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On Tuesday a large explosion shook Riyadh in what may have been an inbound missile intercept. It comes after Saudi air defenses were placed on high alert after similarly destroying an “enemy air target” – believed to have been a drone – sent towards Riyadh on Saturday, likely from Yemen or even possibly from Shia paramilitary forces in Iraq.
Citing multiple sources and eyewitnesses, Deutsche Welle reports the following of the Tuesday attack which ended with a major blast over the city:
A loud explosion was heard over the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh on Tuesday, witnesses reported. The cause of the blast has not yet been confirmed, but Saudi-owned al-Arabiya TV cited videos on social media of a missile being intercepted over the city.
Witnesses told Reuters that they had heard two bangs and saw a small plume of smoke in the sky.
There’s been no claim of responsibility and the kingdom’s defense ministry has yet to assign blame or give details as to what the projectile was.
“Saudi-owned Al Arabiya TV cited local reports of an explosion and videos circulating on social media purporting to show a missile being intercepted over Riyadh,” Reuters wrote of the attack.
Images: An explosion reported in the skies over the Saudi capital Riyadh from what appears to be an air defense system engaging a target. pic.twitter.com/XptLGPNZzz
— Evan Kohlmann (@IntelTweet) January 23, 2021
At least one government in the region has now acknowledged it as a “missile attack,” with Turkey’s Defense Ministry issuing the following statement in the hours following: “We strongly condemn missile attacks against residential areas in Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh.”
The inbound projectile caused all flights at Riyadh’s international airport to be grounded for hours late into the day Tuesday.
Yemen’s Houthis have in past years launched missile attacks on both the capital and Saudi Aramco facilities, most famously in the September 2019 Abqaiq–Khurais attack; however, they are reportedly denying being involved in either the Tuesday or Saturday incidents.
There’s currently some speculation that the projectile could have come from Iraq, after Iran-backed paramilitary forces appeared to issue messages publicly celebrating the attacks.
Tue, 01/26/2021 – 15:35