June 25, 2018 / 10:07 AM / 2 months ago

Saudi-led coalition says Hezbollah fighters killed in Yemen battles

RIYADH (Reuters) - Forces backed by a Saudi-led coalition have killed eight members of Lebanon’s Hezbollah group in Yemen in battles with the Iran-aligned Houthis, the coalition said on Monday.

Hezbollah officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

Hezbollah has previously denied Saudi accusations that the Shi’ite Muslim group is helping Houthi rebels in the Yemen conflict, which has become a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

The coalition said in a statement that 41 “terrorist elements” had been targeted in military operations in the mountainous Saada region in Yemen’s northwest.

“Among the dead are eight members from Lebanon’s terrorist Hezbollah,” the statement said without providing further details.

The Saudi-led coalition intervened in Yemen in 2015 to unseat the Houthis, restore the internationally recognized government in exile and thwart what Riyadh sees as archfoe Iran’s expansionary ambitions in the region.

Yemen’s government and its Gulf partners have long accused Hezbollah’s ally Iran of backing the Houthis and seeking to transform the group into a replica of the heavily armed Lebanese group, a military and political movement that wields great influence in Lebanon. Iran denies interfering in Yemen.

Editing by William Maclean

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