SANAA, Yemen — Yemen’s Houthi rebels said Sunday that they fired a missile at a nuclear plant in the United Arab Emirates in the first such act against the Gulf country, which is a partner to a Saudi-led coalition fighting the Shiite group.
Yemen’s Houthi-controlled news agency Saba said the cruise missile was launched towards the Barakah nuclear reactor, which is under construction in the desert emirate of Abu Dhabi,
The UAE’s state news agency WAM denied the claim and said the plant is “immune to all possibilities.”
Pro-Houthi broadcaster al-Masirah reported that the missile had been launched in response to support by the UAE to Yemen’s former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, a former ally of the Houthis.
The Houthis accused the UAE Saturday of providing arms to Saleh, who has turned against the Iran-allied rebels and charged them with destabilizing Yemen.
In recent months, the Houthis have launched several missiles into neighboring Saudi Arabia. Last month, they fired a ballistic missile at the capital Riyadh, prompting Saudis to impose a temporary air and sea blockade on strife-torn Yemen.
Saleh’s loyalists have battled the Houthis over the past four days for control in the Yemeni capital Sanaa. The Saudi-led coalition has welcomed Saleh’s dramatic shift, calling it a “blessed uprising” against the Houthis.
The coalition Sunday launched a series of air strikes on the Houthis on the outskirts of Sanaa.
In recent months, tensions have grown between Saleh and the Houthis, with Saleh’s loyalists accusing them of trying to monopolize power.
Saleh ruled Yemen for more than three decades, carrying out several wars against the Houthis before he was forced to step down in 2012. He then formed a surprise alliance with the rebel group after their takeover of Sanaa in late 2014.
Saleh Saturday called on the Saudi-led bloc Saturday to stop their campaign in Yemen to “turn a new page.”