By Ahmad Shihadah
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East
SA’NA, Yemen – Saudi Arabia says it has captured a strategic mountain area near its border with Yemen from Yemeni Shi’ite rebels. Saudi forces have been carrying out air and artillery strikes on Yemen for several weeks, after rebels killed a border guard in a raid. “The armed forces completely control al-Dood mountain, one of the most strategic regions,” deputy defense minister Prince Khaled bin Sultan was quoted as saying as he inspected troops just within Saudi territory. He also said Saudi forces had “cleaned up every inch of Saudi territory,” adding that “ant person who infiltrates or sniping will end up surrendering or dead.”
Yemeni officials said they had also engaged in heavy clashes with the Houthi rebels on the outskirts of the northern city of Sa’da. A military official told Reuters that Yemeni officials had prevented a rebel attempt to enter the city on Saturday.
The Houthi rebels denied that the area had been taken and said that Saudi Arabia had carried out further attacks – but they said there had been no clashes on the ground, and that Saudi troops were not in control of the area.
The Houthis have been battling the Yemeni government of Ali Abdullah Saleh since 2004, “citing political, economic and religious marginalization,” reports Al-Jazeera. The Houthis also accuse Saudi Arabia of allowing the Yemeni military to launch strikes against the rebels from within its territory, a claim denied by both nations, according to BBC. The Yemeni government launched a new offensive against the rebels in August 2009, the BBC says, leading to a wave of intense fighting. Reuters reports the Yemeni military tried to rout Houthi rebels near Sa’da, Yemen, leading up to the weekend.
For more information please see:
Al-Jazeera – Saudi ‘Seizes Key Rebel Area’ – 29 November 2009
BBC – Saudi Arabia ‘Clears’ Key Area of Yemen – 29 November 2009
The Christian Science Monitor – Saudi Arabia Steps Up Fight Against Yemen Rebels – November 29 2009