Houthis in Yemen
Houthis in Yemen Reuters

The United States on Monday condemned missile attacks by Yemen's Houthi rebels on targets in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, calling the incidents a "troubling escalation" of the conflict, AFP reports.

Missiles were intercepted with US help over the Emirati capital Abu Dhabi in the early hours of Monday, while others fired on Saudi Arabia in regions bordering Yemen left two people wounded.

US Central Command said in a statement that its forces at Al-Dhafra air base near Abu Dhabi had "engaged two inbound missile threats with multiple Patriot interceptors coincident to efforts by the armed forces of the UAE."

"We reaffirm our commitment to help strengthen the defense of our Saudi and Emirati partners," State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters, according to AFP.

"These attacks on the UAE and Saudi Arabia, as well as recent air strikes in Yemen that killed civilians, represent a troubling escalation that only exacerbates the suffering of the Yemeni people," Price said.

"We call on all parties to the conflict to commit to a ceasefire, abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law... and participate fully in an inclusive UN-led peace process."

The Houthis and their allies took over large parts of Yemen, including the capital Sanaa, in 2015. A Saudi-led military coalition then intervened in Yemen to try to restore the government.

It has long been believed that Iran is planning to use the Houthis to take over Yemen and seize the key strategic port of Aden, which controls the entrance to the Red Sea and ultimately to the Israeli resort city of Eilat.

Iran denies it is backing the Houthis and has also denied Saudi Arabian accusations that Tehran provided the Houthi rebels in Yemen with ballistic capabilities.

Sunday’s incident comes amid increased tensions between the Saudi-led coalition and the Houthis in recent days.

Last week, the Houthis attacked three oil tankers near Abu Dhabi.

On Friday, an air strike on a prison run by Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed the lives of more than 90 people. The Saudi-led coalition on Saturday denied carrying out the air strike on the prison, which was condemned by Iran.