Boys play near houses damaged during the conflict in Yemen in the northwestern city of Saada yesterday.


Dozens of Yemeni Houthi fighters were killed during an assault on the border with Saudi Arabia, residents and Saudi state television said yesterday, in what they described as a major push to try to capture territory inside the kingdom.
The Houthis have been trying to push into Saudi territory since an alliance led by Saudi Arabia intervened in Yemen’s civil war in March, trying to drive back the Iran-allied group and restore exiled Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
“There was an attempt, as usual, to breach the border and sneak into Saudi territory but the ... armed forces as a whole, were watching them and this attempt was thwarted,” Brigadier General Ahmed al-Assiri, spokesman of the Saudi-led coalition, said in comments broadcast by Saudi state television yesterday.
“Those who tried to infiltrate were killed and the situation is stable, thanks be to God,” he added.
The channel said Assiri put the number of those killed at 180 Houthis and allied fighters loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.
That number could not be independently verified, but local residents said dozens of Houthi fighters had been killed in what they said was a major assault by hundreds of Houthi fighters on the border. Saudi forces used helicopters as well as rockets to repel the Houthis, they said.
Shelling from Yemen has killed another Saudi border guard, the interior ministry said, the eighth death from Yemeni firing into the kingdom in just three days.
The latest bombardment hit security posts in Saudi Arabia’s Jazan district at about midday on Monday, the ministry said.
Cross-border shelling from Yemen has claimed the lives of five members of the security forces and three civilians in the kingdom since Saturday.
The border attacks could be in retaliation for a coalition air strike on Sunday that targeted “a meeting of leaders” from the Houthi rebels in their stronghold of Saada, said Assiri.
“I think yesterday it was related to what happened, in Yemen,” Assiri said. “We targeted a headquarters where they were meeting.”
He could not confirm reports that the strike killed the brother of rebel leader Abdulmalik al-Houthi.
The latest deaths bring to more than 80 the number of people killed in the Saudi border zone since coalition operations began.
Most of the casualties have been soldiers.
In late October, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir indicated that coalition military operations in Yemen appeared to be nearing an end.
The kingdom voiced optimism that UN-led peace talks would begin, after previous attempts at negotiations stalled.
In early November the UN’s special envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, said he was “very optimistic” negotiations would start by the middle of that month.
But fighting has continued inside Yemen, as well as in the border zone.
The United Nations says more than 5,700 people have been killed in Yemen since March, nearly half of them civilians.
Hadi supporters, backed by ground forces from the Saudi-led coalition, have driven the Houthis out of the southern port city of Aden and other areas in the former South Yemen, as well as Marib east of the capital Sanaa.
But the group remains firmly in control of the capital and much of the northern part of Yemen.

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