U.S. Army says ‘very significant’ explosion caused by mortar shell in Saudi Arabia
U.N. investigators have concluded that an artillery shell that exploded in Saudi territory on Thursday killed two civilians and wounded six others, killing at least three, the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The shell hit the outskirts of the capital, Riyadh, shortly before dawn, when the Saudi-led coalition carried out a major offensive against rebels near the Saudi border.
It was the deadliest attack since Saudi Arabia’s civil war began in March 2011.
Saudi Arabia is a major U.E. ally in the war.
In a statement released Friday, the Observatory said that the victims were civilians from the city of Maaret al-Numan, a rebel-held town in the southern province of Khobar, which was attacked on the evening of March 2 by a mortar shell that landed near the border.
The group said the dead included two women and three children.
The U.B.I. said it had received information that an attack by the Saudi coalition was planned by militants from al-Nusra Front, a group linked to the Islamic State.
It did not give any further details.
The coalition’s campaign in the province is now over, the statement said.
The Saudi-backed campaign in Khobar has killed nearly a dozen civilians and hundreds of fighters, including foreign fighters from countries such as Iran, Qatar and Turkey.
It has also led to dozens of airstrikes on the rebels, who have been battling Saudi-supported forces since April 2014, when Saudi Arabia began bombing the group.
Saudi officials have denied responsibility for the attack.
The U.s. military said in a statement that it was aware of reports of an explosion at the site of the April attack, but that no U. S. forces were in the area at the time.
“The U of S is aware of a mortar attack that occurred in the vicinity of the area where an initial report was received.
We are currently assessing the impact and will share more information as it becomes available,” the statement read.
U.S.-backed forces have been conducting large-scale military operations in Yemen since the Saudi military launched an air campaign in March 2015 to support the internationally recognized government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
Hadi has been backed by the U,S.
and regional allies, who fear a return to a more dictatorial form of government in the country that has plunged into chaos and chaos, with hundreds of thousands of civilians displaced and an estimated 10 million people in need of humanitarian aid.
In addition to the April incident, the coalition has been targeting areas of the north of Yemen, where rebels are believed to be hiding.
U.M.O. spokesman Lieutenant General John Dorrian told reporters in Washington on Thursday that the coalition had “determined that the cause of the blast in Maaret Al-Numa was a mortar round, not a strike.”
He said the coalition was continuing to search for evidence of the alleged attack.