WASHINGTON — The Biden administration has transferred a significant number of Patriot antimissile interceptors to Saudi Arabia within the past month, fulfilling Riyadh’s urgent request for a resupply amid sharp tensions in the relationship, senior U.S. officials said.
The transfers sought to ensure that Saudi Arabia is adequately supplied with the defensive munitions it needs to fend off drone and missile attacks by the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in neighboring Yemen, one of the officials said.
The Saudi military had been appealing to the U.S. since late last year for more Patriot interceptors-—missiles used to shoot down airborne weapons—warning that their supply was running dangerously low.
U.S.-Saudi relations have deteriorated since Biden took office over issues such as a White House decision to remove the Houthis from a list of designated terrorist groups, as well as Biden’s dealings with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the country’s de facto leader.
The longstanding Saudi request for more interceptors had been a point of contention between Washington and Riyadh, feeding Saudi officials’ displeasure over what they contend was a lack of U.S. support for their intervention in the Yemen civil war.
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