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Saudi, Yemeni forces attack Houthi fighters

The Houthi fighters say that Saudi Arabian forces along with Yemeni military have carried out a fresh ground incursion into Yemeni territory using tanks, artillery and aircraft.

The attacks on Tuesday were taking place in the border districts of Malahiz and Shada provinces. In the incursion, the Saudi army had been using all kind of weapons; land, air, tanks, and artillery, they added.

The Houthis have already said they inflicted heavy damage on Saudi troops.

Witnesses from the northern border town of Razah also said that the Saudis had begun an offensive on Monday.

“The Saudi army launched a vast offensive against Houthi positions in the border region,” one witness, who asked not to be identified, said.

The conflict in northern Yemen first began in 2004 between Sana’a and Houthi fighters, but relative peace had returned to region until August 11, when the Yemeni army began a major offensive, dubbed Operation Scorched Earth, against the province of Sa’adah.

The government claims that the fighters, who are named after their leader Abdul Malik al-Houthi, seek to restore the Shia Zaidi imamate system, which was overthrown in a 1962 coup.

The Houthis, however, say they are defending their people against government marginalization policies which they believe have been adopted under pressure from Saudi-backed Wahhabi extremists, who consider Shias heretics.

Recently, the Saudi Arabian government has aggravated the situation even more by launching its own offensive against northern Yemen based on an allegation that Houthi fighters have killed two of its soldiers on the border.

The fighters say Yemeni villages are being targeted with deadly phosphorous bombs, which cause massive injuries among the Shia civilian population.

As Sana’a does not allow independent media into the conflict zone, there are no clear estimates available as to how many people have been killed in the Shia province of Sa’adah since the beginning of the unrest in 2004 or in the recent violence.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), however, estimates that since 2004 up to 175,000 people have been forced to leave their homes in Sa’adah to take refuge in overcrowded camps set up by the United Nations.

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