RIYADH, Saudi Arabia

The Saudi-led coalition in Yemen said on Wednesday it had intercepted and destroyed an explosive-laden drone fired by Houthi rebels towards Saudi Arabia.

A coalition statement said the drone was fired towards southern Saudi Arabia, but was shot down by the Saudi air defenses, according to the state news agency SPA.

The coalition accused Houthi rebels of deliberately targeting civilian areas, saying it has taken “procedures to protect civilians and civilian areas from such attacks.”

There was no comment from the Houthi group on the coalition’s statement.

Over the past two weeks, the Saudi-led coalition announced intercepting several drones fired by Houthi rebels towards Saudi territories.

The Houthi group, backed by Iran, say the drone attacks are a reaction to the Saudi-led coalition’s assault on Yemen.

According to Liz Throssell, the spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Houthi rebels have launched 128 drone strikes and 31 ballistic missile attacks on Saudi Arabia since the beginning of this year.

Yemen has been beset by violence and chaos since 2014, when Houthis overran much of the country, including the capital, Sanaa. The crisis escalated in 2015 when a Saudi-led coalition launched a devastating air campaign aimed at rolling back Houthi territorial gains.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the conflict has claimed more than 233,000 lives.

*Ahmed Asmar contributed to this report from Ankara

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