Sanaa, Sep 29 (IANS) The Houthi Shite rebels announced they had captured “a large number” of Saudi military, including senior officials, during a three-month-long operation in the southern Saudi region of Najran on the border with Yemen.
The operation resulted in “the fall of three military brigades of the entire enemy forces, with all their military equipment and most of their troops and commanders,” a military spokesman for the Houthis Yahya Sarea said on Saturday in a speech televised by Al Masira, Efe news reported.
The “thousands of enemy troops” captured are mainly “traitors and deceived,” according to Sarea who was referring to the troops of the internationally-recognized Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, which fights alongside the Saudi-led Arab coalition against the Houthis.
Among the captured are “three military brigades of Hadi” and a “complete battalion of the Saudi Army,” Sarea said without providing more details.
The anti-Houthis coalition has yet to comment on the announcement.
The operation, the biggest carried out yet according to the Houthis, started three months ago, by dragging the enemy’s troops into an area they then besieged, the spokesman added.
“Only 72 hours after the beginning of the operation, our forces completely applied the siege to the enemy forces,” he continued.
“Hundreds of enemy forces were killed and wounded.”
“Hundreds of kilometers” in the operation area were “liberated,” he concluded.
On 20 September, the Houthis announced a ceasefire, but they warned they would respond to any attack by the coalition.
During the couple of days that followed the unilateral ceasefire, the coalition launched an attack on Yemen, leaving dozens of civilians dead, according to the Houthis.
The conflict in Yemen broke out in late 2014 when Houthi rebels, backed by Iran, occupied Sana’a and other provinces in the country.
The battle intensified in 2015 with the intervention of the Arab-led coalition made up of Sunni countries in favour of forces loyal to President Abdo Rabu Mansur Hadi, who is internationally recognized and currently in exile in Riyadh.
The war has caused the greatest humanitarian crisis worldwide, with 80 per cent of the population, around 24 million people, in need of assistance and protection, according to the UN.