SANAA, Yemen

The Saudi-led coalition in Yemen claimed on Thursday it destroyed an explosive-laden drone fired by Houthi rebels in the direction of Saudi Arabia.

The drone aimed at targeting civilians in the southern region, spokesman Col. Turki al-Maliki said in a statement.

The development comes a day after the Arab forces said they intercepted and destroyed two explosive-laden boats south of the Red Sea, also launched by the Houthis, who are backed by Iran.

The Houthis did not confirm the two incidents. The group, however, regularly announces launching rocket and drone attacks on Saudi territories, saying they are in reaction to the assault in the Middle East country.

Houthi spokesman Yahya Sarei had earlier threatened to take escalatory steps in response to “the continued closure of the Yemeni air and seaports.”

Yemen has been beset by violence since 2014 when Houthi rebels overran much of the country, including the capital Sanaa.

The crisis escalated in 2015 when the Saudi-led coalition launched a devastating air campaign aimed at rolling back Houthi territorial gains.

While thousands of people have been killed since the war erupted, there is food insecurity and millions are at risk of starvation.

*Ahmed Asmar contributed to this report from Ankara

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