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Saudi-led coalition warns of 'painful' response over Yemen drones

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Riyadh (AFP)

A Saudi-led coalition battling Yemen's Huthi rebels warned them on Monday of a "painful" response if they mounted new attacks on Saudi Arabia using what it said were Iran-supplied drones.

Riyadh said last week it had shot down two drones in the south of the kingdom as well as intercepting ballistic missiles fired from rebel-held parts of Yemen, the latest in a series of similar incidents.

"If the Huthis continue targeting industrial or residential facilities, the response will be hard and painful," said coalition spokesman Turki al-Malki, displaying what he claimed were remnants of the intercepted aircraft.

Malki told reporters in the eastern city of Al-Khobar that the airport of rebel-held capital Sanaa was used as a military base to orchestrate the drone strike.

The Saudi-backed Yemeni government last week said the drones were "made in Iran", adding that Yemen's military did not possess such aircraft and it was "impossible to manufacture them locally".

Iran backs the Huthis, who seized the capital Sanaa in 2014, prompting a Saudi-led military coalition to intervene against the rebels the following year.

But Tehran has repeatedly denied arming the rebels, which would violate a United Nations weapons embargo slapped on Yemen in 2015.

Riyadh said its air defences between Wednesday and Friday intercepted five ballistic missiles and two drones launched from rebel-held northern Yemen.

Saudi Arabia in March 2015 launched a coalition of Arab states fighting to roll back the Huthis in Yemen and restore the country's internationally-recognised government to power.

Nearly 10,000 people have since been killed in Yemen's conflict, in what the United Nations has called the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

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