Hoping for some new last-minute gains before the April ceasefire and peace talks, Saudi forces and allies attempted to cross the Saudi border and advance down the Red Sea coast into Yemen, capturing the port of Midi.
They have faced a heavy backlash, however, and that offensive appears to have stalled outright as Houthi forces pushed into the area, killing at least 45 pro-Saudi troops over a 48-hour period. 15 Houthis were also reported slain in the battles.
Since the Saudis attacked Yemen last March, most of the fighting has centered on the southern coast, as they captured the port of Aden and attempted to advance into Taiz, hoping to push quickly into the capital. This is the first major advance from Saudi territory into northern Yemen.
That’s likely been considered too risky as the Houthis’ homeland is in the Saada Province, along the Saudi border. The Saudi government and the Houthis reached a border ceasefire weeks ago, however, and it isn’t clear how the cross-border incursion fits into that deal. Saudi officials likely figure that with a new ceasefire coming in early April they can afford to risk the existing one.