YEMENI-SAUDI BORDER — As the widely unpopular Saudi-led, U.S.-backed war on Yemen continues to push the country deeper into one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, Saudi Arabia has launched a vicious campaign to secure Jizan, its vulnerable southern border region with Yemen, which has been its Achilles heel in its brutal assault on its southern neighbor. Yemen’s Houthi fighters, the primary force resisting the Saud-led occupation of Yemen, frequently target the Saudi military in Jizan, sending a stark reminder to the Kingdom that its war on Yemen will inevitably be felt at home.
Scores of civilians were killed in the past week after Saudi Arabia launched a fresh round of airstrikes against the Saudi-Yemeni border region of Hajjah in northwestern Yemen. Most of the victims, including many women and children, were from a single family that resided in the strategic Kushar directorate, an area Saudi Arabia has been attempting to capture since last week.
A deadly “double-tap” Saudi strike
Two civilians were also killed in a separate Saudi airstrike on Sunday that targeted a rescue operation in the al-Safiah district of Hajjah. Rescuers were attempting to recover victims from the rubble of a home that was leveled in a previous Saudi airstrike when Saudi jets returned and attacked the home a second time. That same day in Nihm, which lies southeast of Hajjah, Saudi airstrikes targeted the home of Saleh Mohammed al-Tuggi, killing three women and an elderly man.
Saudi ground forces — comprised of an array of local mercenaries and allied Salafi extremist groups, including al Qaeda, and equipped with the latest U.S.-supplied weaponry — have been fighting a fierce ground campaign to take the high ground on the Saudi-Yemeni border district that overlooks Hajjah’s strategic city of Haradh. Haradh lies near the Saudi border region of Jizan.
On the outskirts of Haradh, Saudi warplanes and Apache attack helicopters conducted airstrikes on the Kuhlan al-Sharf district, hitting a dozen targets including the al-Sudah school and forcing hundreds of civilians to flee to Hajjah city and to the nearby capital, Sana’a.
Responding to the Saudi incursion, the Houthis and allied Yemeni military renewed attacks on military positions in southern Saudi Arabia, taking control of a number of sites in areas east of the Jizan and Najran regions and killing dozens of Saudi and foreign troops, as well as capturing Western-supplied weapons.
Saudi authorities said in a statement Saturday evening that the soldiers had been killed in battles with the Houthis in Saudi Arabia’s southern border regions. The Saudi military also published images of a funeral of one of the soldiers in the al-Ahsa region.
Yemen’s Houthi-allied armed forces announced that they struck a gathering of Saudi troops in the al-Bug district north of Sa’ada with a high-precision Badr P-1 ballistic missile. The attack left an unspecified number of soldiers either killed or wounded, according to a Yemeni armed-forces source.
Houthis take the war to Saudi territory
The media branch of the Houthis’ political wing, Ansar Allah, released footage showing strategic Saudi military locations being captured deep inside Saudi territory. The footage shows U.S., and what appears to be Austrian weapons caches, captured when the Houthis took control of Saudi military bases in al-Sawh in Saudi Arabia’s southwestern region of Najran, 900 kilometers (559 miles) south of the Saudi capital Riyadh.
Watch | Houthi forces after they captured a Saudi military position in southern Saudi Arabia. Weapons caches can be seen in the background
Despite being equipped with the latest U.S.armaments, Saudi troops and their allied mercenaries fled their posts upon confrontation, leaving behind caches of weapons including American-made armored vehicles as well as Austrian Kalashnikovs and sniper rifles.
A source inside of Yemen’s military revealed that the Houthi-allied Yemeni army plans to launch additional operations in a bid to control more Saudi military sites inside the Kingdom’s southern regions of Jizan, Asir and Najran, for as long as the coalition continues its military campaign against Yemen’s Hajjah province. ِA commander of the Saudi Electronic Planning Squad was also killed after his armored vehicle was targeted in Hadabah Sudeis in Najran, southern Saudi Arabia.
The ongoing Saudi-led military campaign against Yemen has resulted in the deaths of 15,250 civilians, including 3,527 children and 2,277 women, according to the Legal Center for Rights and Development in Yemen, a non-governmental organization monitoring human-rights violations immediately after their occurrence. These figures will likely increase as a result of the latest Saudi attacks on Hajjah. Other groups have put the number of civilians killed in the war much higher.
Moreover, 23,822 civilians — among them 3,526 children and 2,587 women — have sustained injuries and are suffering from a shortage of medical supplies and treatment resulting from a crippling Saudi land, air, and sea blockade. The Center further noted that the Saudi-led Coalition has caused the deaths of nearly 2,200 Yemenis from cholera.
British SAS soldiers among those killed
According to a statement given to MintPress News by a high-ranking military official in Yemen, the latest fighting has resulted in the deaths of a number of British military personnel.
The high-ranking source told MintPress that at least nine British soldiers were killed or injured in the mountainous northwestern province of Sa’ada near Saudi Arabia’s southern border region of Najran on February 24, when the Yemeni army, supported by Houthis fighters, launched a military operation against British-led mercenary forces as they were preparing to launch an attack.
A yet unknown number of British soldiers were also killed in the Marib province of eastern Yemen when the Houthi-allied Yemeni military targeted British SAS (Special Air Service) battalions. The SAS troops were traveling in unmarked trucks and dressed in local Yemeni clothes, according to a military source who also confirmed that a number of British troops were evacuated in an Emirati helicopter to a U.S. military base in Djibouti.
A high-ranking Saudi military commander — Brigadier General Salih Balaid al-Marqashi, commander of Saudi operations in the Baqim district of Sa’ada — was killed on Friday when Houthi-allied Yemeni troops mounted an attack to retake the Murabba Shaja area near Saudi Arabia’s southern border region of Najran.
The Coalition, led by Saudi Arabia and backed by the United States and other Western powers, has killed tens of thousands of Yemeni civilians since 2015 when the war began. Moreover, the coalition’s blockade of food and medicine has plagued the country with an unprecedented famine and triggered a deadly outbreak of preventable disease that has cost thousands of civilians their lives.
Top Photo | A screenshot from a video released by the Houthi-affiliated Ansar Allah Media Center, shows the moment a Saudi jet targeted a home in Yemen’s Hajjah province near the Yemen-Saudi border. Screenshot | AMC
Ahmed AbdulKareem is a Yemeni journalist. He covers the war in Yemen for MintPress News as well as local Yemeni media.