x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Saudi forces scale back Yemeni assault

Saudi Arabia is scaling back its assault on Yemeni rebels along the mountainous border and has captured 200 or more rebel fighters.

Saudi Arabia is scaling back its assault on Yemeni rebels along the mountainous border and has captured 200 or more rebel fighters, a government adviser said today. "The actual heavy shelling of the area is all finished," the adviser said. "There are now tactical units deployed there. We want to make sure they (the rebels) are neutralised." The adviser said the Saudi side has captured hundreds of rebels. "In the last 48 hours, there have been a lot of surrenders ... We are counting in the hundreds the fighters who have given themselves up," he said. Last week, Saudi air force fighter-bombers and heavy artillery pounded rebel positions inside the north-west Yemeni province of Saada. The attack came after the Shiite Zaidi rebels, known as Huthis, killed a Saudi border guard in a raid and occupied Saudi villages on the slopes of the Jebel al-Dukhan mountain. While official statements from Riyadh insist that Saudi shelling was strictly inside Saudi territory, rebel and other sources have said the attacks were aimed at rebel camps inside Yemen. Since the initial clashes, at least two more Saudi soldiers have been killed and four are missing, while Huthi casualties are unknown. "They have sustained a serious amount of casualties," the government adviser said, citing Saudi military information. The Huthis say they have captured several Saudi soldiers, but have not provided firm evidence. Shiite rebels in northern Yemen have claimed Saudi warplanes were using phosphorus bombs against them in Yemeni territory. "The Saudi air raids resumed this morning. Saudi combat fighter jets launched intense raids against border areas inside Yemeni territory on Sunday night," rebel spokesman Mohammad Abdessalam said. "The Saudi military used phosphorus bombs during those night raids, burning mountainous regions." The Saudi authorities insist that attacks by their forces are limited to targeting rebel locations inside Saudi territory. * AFP