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Houthi Rebels Fired Missile at Riyadh Hours Before Trump Arrived

by Ken Dilanian and Courtney Kube /
Image:  Saudi Royal Court
President Donald Trump holds a bouquet of flowers upon being welcomed by Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, right, during trump's arrival at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh on May 20, 2017.Bandar Al-Jaloud / Saudi Royal Court via AFP - Getty Images

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Houthi rebels fired a SCUD missile at Saudi Arabia's capital Saturday in an attack that appeared timed to coincide with President Trump's visit to the city, two U.S. officials told NBC News.

The missile landed without incident about 20 miles away from Riyadh hours before Trump's arrival, the officials said.

The Saudi Air Force tracked down the launch site and bombed it to rubble, one official said.

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The Houthis are an Iranian-backed group that have seized parts of Yemen, and are the target of a Saudi bombing campaign in that country.

The U.S. conducts counterterrorism operations against al Qaeda in Yemen, but has avoided becoming directly involved in that country's civil war. The Trump administration has been debating whether to set up assistance to the Saudis against the Houthis, despite long-running complaints about civilian casualties and the humanitarian toll the war is taking on the Yemeni populace.

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