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Fighting escalates on Saudi-Yemeni border ahead of Geneva talks

June 8, 2015 at 2:58 pm

The Saudi Arabian-Yemeni border is witnessing an unprecedented escalation in fighting between the Houthis and forces loyal to former president Ali Abdalluh Saleh on one side, and Saudi artillery and Arab coalition airplanes on the other.

This comes days before the beginning of the Geneva peace talks on June 14, which aim to settle the Yemeni crisis.

Sources told Anadolu Agency on Sunday that the Houthis have begun to withdraw hundreds of their fighters from the northern and western provinces, which are not witnessing any open battles, and sending them to the Saudi border and particularly towards Saudi’s southern Jizan province.

The pro-Houthi sources also pointed out that fierce battles have taken place since Sunday morning on the border between Yemen and Saudi Arabia.

The popular committees, which are allied to the Houthis, and the Yemeni army, which still remains loyal to Saleh, bombed the al-Doud military checkpoint in Saudi Arabia’s Jizan province with Katyusha rockets “and inflicted deaths and injuries to the soldiers there.”

Over the past 24 hours, the Houthis have said they have fired tens of rockets on “Saudi Arabian military areas that are targeting locals in the border areas in (Yemeni) Saada and Hajjah provinces.”

In response, Saudi naval forces fired their artillery at Yemeni ports and coalition airplanes fiercely bombed two border towns in Yemen’s northern Saada province, as well as Houthi gatherings in Amran and Hajjah provinces in northern Yemen.

The Saudi defense ministry said that it has sent additional naval forces to regions bordering Yemen, two days after Houthis bombed the Prince Khalid military base in Khamis Mushait, south-west Saudi Arabia, with scud missiles.

Over the course of the last two months, the Houthis have limited their response to Saudi strikes with small skirmishes and artillery fire, before announcing at the end of last May its military operations in an open manner, saying that the pro-Houthi army and popular committees began firing their rockets against Saudi military areas.

On March 23, Saudi Arabia led an Arab coalition and launched Operation Decisive Storm, at the request of exiled Yemeni President Abdul Hadi Rabbuh Mansur, and began its air strikes against the Houthis in Yemen, which took control of the capital Sanaa, as well as other cities.

Last Saturday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon announced that on June 14, talks would begin in Geneva to solve the Yemeni crisis.