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Saudi-led coalition denies Houthi claims of capturing troops

October 1, 2019 at 2:06 pm

Supporters of the Houthis in Sanaa, Yemen on 21 September 2019 [Mohammed Hamoud/Anadolu Agency]

The Saudi-led coalition fighting against Yemen’s Houthis has dismissed claims made by the movement that it captured thousands of troops fighting on behalf of Saudi Arabia during a cross border raid in the Najran province which allegedly took place in August – although news outlets reported the incident as having taken place last week.

At a press conference yesterday, Saudi coalition spokesperson, Colonel Turki Al-Mali denounced the claims were “theatrical” and part of “attempts to mislead” the international and regional media, describing it as a “disinformation campaign”.

Al-Malki asserted that in fact the Houthis had been repelled by coalition forces along the Saudi-Yemen border and that over 1,500 Houthi fighters had been killed over the past few weeks.

READ: UN welcomes release of hundreds of detainees in Yemen

The coalition aired its footage purportedly showing air raids on Houthi targets in the Kitaf district in the group’s stronghold of Saada province.

The press conference coincided with the Houthis announcing that they will be releasing 350 prisoners, including three Saudis, as part of a UN supervised peace initiative.

Footage from the Houthi raid is still circulating on social media amid growing concerns over Saudi Arabia’s ability to defend itself especially after the attacks on its Aramco oil facility in the middle of September.

The Houthi claims come nearly two years after a senior US military adviser publicly highlighted worryingly high casualty rates and poor training and sustainment practices within Saudi Arabia’s National Guard.