DUBAI, Nov 9 (Reuters) - Yemeni rebels on Monday posted footage of a man they identified as one of several Saudi soldiers in their custody as Riyadh continued its offensive against the Shi’ite insurgents.
Saudi Arabia launched air strikes on the northern Yemeni rebels last week after they crossed the border and said they had seized an area called Jabal Dukhan. On Friday, the rebels said they had captured several Saudi soldiers.
The video showed a man in military uniform with facial wounds and an apparent leg injury receiving medical attention. It identified him as Staff Sergeant Ahmad Abdullah al-Omari.
A second video showed a man with similar features apparently being filmed by a colleague on board what the rebels said was a cargo aircraft carrying military transport vehicles.
They also posted a picture of a military identity card carrying Omari’s name but the photograph alongside it showed little resemblance to the man in the video.
Saudi Arabia has said four soldiers were missing, but denied they had been taken prisoner. The rebels have not said how many soldiers are in their hands.
Rebel spokesman Mohammed Abdel-Salam said earlier on Monday that Saudi Arabia was using phosphorous bombs in the offensive but did not specify the nature of the targets hit by such bombs.
"These are facts from the battlefield ... we have pictures that we will provide to the media," rebel spokesman Mohammed Abdel-Salam told Al Jazeera television in a telephone interview.
White phosphorous can cause severe burns and its use against targets located among civilians is prohibited under an international law.
Saudi Arabia’s defence ministry spokesman could not be reached for comment, but Al Jazeera said that Riyadh regards the accusation as rebel propaganda.
The kingdom said on Sunday it had regained control of territory seized by the rebels and denied the claim that Yemeni villages were being heavily bombed. The rebels deny they have lost control of Jabal Dukhan.
The world’s top oil exporter has become increasingly anxious about instability in Yemen, which, as well as the Shi’ite insurgency in the north, faces separatist sentiment in the south and a growing threat from resurgent al Qaeda fighters.
The rebels, referred to as Houthis after the clan of their leader Abdel-Malik al-Houthi, have accused Saudi Arabia of allowing Yemeni forces to use its territory as a base to launch attacks against them.
Houthi rebels first took up arms against President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s government in 2004, citing political, economic and religious marginalisation by the Saudi- and Western-backed administration.
The conflict intensified in August when Yemen’s army launched Operation Scorched Earth to crush the rebels.
Aid groups, which have been given limited access to the northern provinces, say up to 150,000 people have fled their homes since 2004. (Reporting by Inal Ersan; editing by Robin Pomeroy)