Houthi rebels operating in northern Yemen offered no signs of a coming détente with Saudi Arabia on the eve of the third anniversary of Yemen's civil war after launching a barrage of missiles into the kingdom's capital city of Riyadh on Sunday.
The overnight attack left one dead in the Saudi capital for the first time since the kingdom intervened in Yemen in 2015, risking escalation of a war that has brought the country to the brink of collapse. A record three quarters of the population are now in need of humanitarian assistance as starvation and disease ravage entire communities, according to the United Nations.
Saudi air defenses intercepted the seven ballistic missiles fired at the kingdom, including three that were shot down over Riyadh, authorities said Monday. One Egyptian was killed and two others injured after shrapnel penetrated a house in Riyadh.
Iolanda Jaquemet, a spokeswoman for the International Committee of the Red Cross, said the humanitarian crisis has deteriorated significantly over the past year.
Millions of people are at risk of starvation and the population has suffered from the reemergence of preventable diseases due in large part to combatants who have blocked access to food and medical supplies. As Yemen prepares for the onset of the rainy season next month, Jaquemet warned of another deadly outbreak of cholera, which infected over one million people last year.
"It's a slow death for Yemen," she told the Washington Free Beacon on Monday. "As time passes, the situation gets worse and the state of vulnerability of the population is tremendous. The only solution would be a political one because the longer this conflict goes on and the way that the conflict is waged, the more the population suffers. There seems to be no end in sight."
The United States and its Saudi partners have accused Iran of supplying the Houthi rebels with sophisticated weaponry, including ballistic missiles, as part of Tehran's ongoing battle for regional dominance. Saudi-led coalition spokesman Turki al Maliki swiftly blamed Iran for Sunday's attack, saying the missile launch by the Houthis "proves that the Iranian regime continues to support the armed group with military capabilities," according to the Telegraph.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert "strongly condemned" the assault in a statement Monday morning and reinforced U.S. support for the Saudis "to defend their borders against these threats."
"We continue to call on all parties, including the Houthis, to return to political negotiations and move toward ending the war in Yemen," Nauert said.
But the Houthis have doubled down, threatening additional strikes against Saudi Arabia if the U.S.-backed coalition continued bombing the country.