By AFP – Sep 29,2019 -JORDAN TIMES
SANAA — Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels said Sunday they had killed some 200 pro-government fighters and took 2,000 others prisoner in an August offensive near the southern Saudi region of Najran.
On Saturday, the Houthis had said that officers from Saudi Arabia — which leads a military coalition against the Houthis — were among the captives, but those claims were not repeated in Sunday’s televised press conference.
“More than 200 were killed in dozens of [missile and drone] strikes while trying to escape or surrender,” Huthi spokesman Yahya Saree said.
“Over 2,000 fighters were taken prisoner,” he added, saying most of them were Yemeni but that they included other prisoners.
He said that the three-day “large-scale” operation was launched on August 25, and showed footage purportedly of the attack, but it was not clear why the announcement was being made weeks later.
The coalition had no response to the Houthi claims on Saturday that Saudi troops were among those taken captive.
A Yemeni government source confirmed to AFP that some 200 soldiers were killed in an attack in late August, but that only about 1,300 fighters were still being held, including 280 who were wounded.
The source said that Yemeni troops were surrounded for four days by the Houthis in the rebels’ northern stronghold of Saada province.
The Houthis have made a series of big announcements in recent weeks, including an offer to halt drone and ballistic missile attacks on Saudi Arabia as part of efforts to end the long-running war.
The rebels also claimed responsibility for massive September 14 attacks on Saudi oil installations that knocked out half of the OPEC kingpin’s production and sent shock waves through world energy markets.
The United States and Saudi Arabia however blamed Iran, saying the strikes were carried out with advanced weaponry that was beyond the capability of the Houthis.
Riyadh and its allies intervened in Yemen’s civil war in March 2015 to bolster the government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi after the Houthis seized much of the country, include the capital Sanaa.