In a potential major step in the four-year long Saudi Arabia-led invasion of Yemen, Yemen’s Houthi movement has announced that their fighters have crossed the border into the southern Najran Province of the Saudi kingdom, overrunning at least 20 positions.
Houthi spokesman Yahya Sarei promised to release extensive video footage of the operation soon on Yemeni state media, and claimed that in the three-day push, more than 200 Saudi and UAE troops were killed or wounded.
This would be the first major cross-border ground operation by the Houthis of the war, and more important than any briefly held territory are claims by Houthi officials are massive stockpiles of equipment taken from the Saudi-led forces in the process. If true, this could shore up the Houthis military apparatus with pricey Saudi-bought arms.
There are historic territorial disputes on the Yemen-Saudi border in this area as well. During the 2009 fighting between the Houthis and the Saleh government, there was substantial fighting on the Yemen-Saudi border, in much the same area.
The 2009 fighting saw the Saudis engaged in familiar tactics of heavily bombing civilian targets, and ended with a temporary defeat of the Houthis, though the border region in northern Yemen remained heavily dominated by Shi’ites who supported, and still support, the Houthis.