60 foreign troops from the Saudi war against Yemen were killed today in two separate incidents, the first major casualties among non-Saudi foreign military forces since the war began in March. 45 of the troops were from the United Arab Emirates, with the other five from Bahrain. Saudi Arabia later reported 10 more deaths of their troops.
The 45 UAE troops and the Saudis were killed in a blast in Maarib Province. They initially presented this as an accident, but the Shi’ite Houthis later confirmed they’d fired a Soviet-era Tochka missile at the weapons depot, causing the blast that killed the troops.
The UAE military were the first to openly confirm a ground operation in Yemen, sending troops to the southern city of Aden to help the pro-Saudi forces hold the territory. After confirming their presence, what those troops were doing became less certain, though apparently it involved defending this weapons depot. The Saudis reported their 10 were also slain in the weapons depot with the UAE troops, the first time they’ve confirmed having ground troops in the area.
The deaths of the five Bahrainis are less certain. The Bahraini government reported the deaths, saying they took place at the Saudi-Yemeni border, but gave no details about what exactly happened. Cross-border fire is common, but rarely causes more than one or two deaths there.
Several months of war in Yemen has left the country divided, with the pro-Saudi fighters controlling the southern coast and the Shi’ite Houthis dominating the north. Though the Saudis and their allies have insisted they will continue the war until the whole country is theirs. This priority may change, however, with the new casualties among GCC nations, as this will doubtless make the war tougher to sell in those countries.