DUBAI (Reuters) - Dozens of Yemeni Houthi fighters were killed during an assault on the border with Saudi Arabia, residents and Saudi state television said on Tuesday, 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 on Tuesday.
“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.
The Houthi-run Saba news agency said that fighters had seized three Saudi military outposts near the city of Najran, destroying several armored vehicles, including two U.S.-made Abrams tanks and three Bradley vehicles.
The United Nations says that at least 5,700 people, nearly half of them civilians, have been killed since the Saudi-led alliance launched air strikes in March against the Houthis and their allies.
Hadi supporters, backed by ground forces from the Saudi-led coalition, have since then 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.
Reporting by Sami Aboudi; Editing by Dominic Evans