Shi’ite Houthi militia forces from Yemen claim to have taken control of villages across the border in Saudi Arabia, Houthi-run news agencies report, citing unnamed military sources.
Several villages in the southwestern Saudi province of Jizan are now said to be under the control of Shi’ite militias, according to unconfirmed media reports.
Among the villages Houthis claim to have taken over are Al-Kars and Al-Bahtit, while Houthi reports cite a military source as saying that militia had captured a strategic bridge that connects two areas near Al-Khubah. The same source claimed that the Saudi military suffered losses in the process that had retaliated with a bombardment of Al-Khubah.
No official or other independent sources have yet verified the Houthi claims; however, earlier reports citing Saudi authorities had put 14 people wounded as a result of missiles fired into Saudi Arabia from across the border.
These unconfirmed reports come after two reports in late August that Houthi militias had successfully targeted oil facilities belonging to Saudi oil giant Aramco in the Saudi southwest, as well as the Saudi airport of Abha.
Yemen is the site of a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran—a fact that tends to skew reporting, with Iranian and Houthi-influenced news outlets attempting to show gains against the Saudis, and the Saudis either refuting or failing to confirm attacks.
In February 2015, the Houthi rebels forced President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to flee to Saudi Arabia, Yemen’s neighbor to the north. The Shi’ite Houthis are allied with Iran, Saudi Arabia’s regional archrival. The international community recognizes Hadi as Yemen’s legitimate leader.
Since March of last year, Saudi Arabia has led an Arab air coalition against the Houthis and their allies in an effort to support Yemen’s Saudi-backed government.
By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com
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Julianne Geiger is a veteran editor, writer and researcher for US-based Divergente LLC consulting firm, and a member of the Creative Professionals Networking Group.