DUBAI, Nov 18 (Reuters) - Two rebel leaders were killed in clashes with government forces in north Yemen, a government website said on Wednesday, citing sources familiar with the matter.
Government forces destroyed weaponry belonging to the Houthi rebels and "inflicted massive losses in terms of casualties and equipment" in Tuesday’s clash in the northern Saada province, the website said.
Houthi leaders Abbas Aaida and Abu Haider were killed and another commander, Yousif al-Madani, was injured but escaped, the report said.
In August, Yemen stepped up a military campaign against Houthi rebels who belong to Yemen’s Zaidi Shi’ite minority. They say they suffer religious, economic and social marginalisation and neglect. Fighting has flared on and off since 2004.
The rebels have accused Saudi Arabia of providing military support to Sanaa, a charge denied by the government and Saudi Arabia, one of the world’s top oil exporters.
But last week Saudi Arabia launched an offensive against the rebels after they staged a cross-border raid during which they seized Saudi territory.
Saudi Arabia and its ally, the United States, fear al Qaeda militants are exploiting instability in Yemen, an impoverished country also grappling with separatist unrest in the south, to establish a stronger base for operations in the region. (Reporting by Tamara Walid; Editing by Jon Boyle)