The retaliatory air strikes by the Saudi coalition that killed three people near Sanaa came after a Houthi attack caused the first fatalities in the kingdom since 2018.

Tens of thousands of people have since been killed in Yemen, in what the UN has described as the world's worst humanitarian crisis.
Tens of thousands of people have since been killed in Yemen, in what the UN has described as the world's worst humanitarian crisis. (Reuters)

The Saudi-led coalition has launched a "large-scale" assault on Yemen after a projectile killed two people in the kingdom, in the first such deaths in three years blamed on Iran-backed Houthi rebels.

A retaliatory coalition air strike on Yemen on Saturday killed three people, including a child and a woman, and wounded six others in Ajama, a town northwest of the Houthi-held capital Sanaa, Yemeni medics said.

Houthis warned Saudi Arabia of "painful" response.

"We promise the Saudi regime painful operations as long as it continues its aggression and crimes," said Houthi spokesperson Yahya Saree on Saturday.

Saudi's civil defence said that two people, one Saudi and the other Yemeni, were killed and seven others wounded in the projectile attack on Jazan, a southern region of the kingdom bordering Yemen.

The Saudi-led military coalition said shortly afterwards that it was "preparing for a large-scale military operation".

READ MORE: Why is there a war in Yemen?

First fatalities in over three years

The latest attack was the first in more than three years that has resulted in fatalities in the kingdom, which recorded its first death from a Houthi missile attack when a missile struck Riyadh in 2018.

It also comes as fighting between the two sides intensifies, with the coalition ramping air strikes on Sanaa.

Yemen has been wracked by civil war since 2014 pitting the internationally recognised government supported by the Saudi-led military coalition against the Houthis who control much of the north.

READ MORE: US reviews support for Saudi coalition after Yemen carnage

Source: TRTWorld and agencies