RIYADH (Reuters) - Saudi Arabian forces have made repeated small incursions across the border with Yemen in response to attacks since the start of airstrikes against Houthi forces on March 26, the Saudi-led coalition said on Sunday.
Attacks on Saudi border positions by the Houthis or their allies, army units loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, have increased since coalition-backed forces regained control of Aden last month and advanced northwards.
“Sometimes you have to move and not be static on your defensive line. You move, find where the attack comes from, find the target. It happens from time to time but is not significant,” coalition spokesman Brigadier Ahmed Asseri said.
Over a dozen Saudi soldiers and border guards have been killed in shelling, fighting or missile attacks on the frontier since the airstrikes began, while coalition jets have caused hundreds of Houthi casualties, Asseri has previously said.
The kingdom fought a brief border war with the Houthis in 2009-10, in which both sides briefly took control of patches of each other’s territory. Riyadh accuses the group of acting on behalf of Iran, which it and Tehran both deny.
“We don’t have the intention to go deep across the Yemeni border, but sometimes because of difficult terrain, mountains or caves where they can hide, we have to to find their positions, clear them and then get back to our positions,” he said in a telephone interview.
Such incursions are made as responses to Houthi attacks on Saudi frontier positions and typically go only a hundred or so meters into Yemeni territory, but have gone “to a maximum of one or two kilometers” he said.
Reporting by Angus McDowall; Editing by Ruth Pitchford