Saudi forces crosses into Yemen
A large Saudi armored force crosses into Yemen to fight Iran-backed rebels
DEBKAfile Special Report
November 5, 2009, 11:20 AM (GMT+02:00) <--MORE
Saudi warplanes over Yemen
Thursday, Nov. 5, a substantial Saudi armored infantry force and tank column crossed the border into Yemen to do battle with Iran-backed Houthi rebels the day after they killed a Saudi border guard. Saudi air force F-15 and Tornado jets have been bombing Yemeni rebel positions near the border with the southern Saudi Jizan province since Wednesday. The Yemeni Houthi rebels are the second Iranian ally to be attacked after Israel's Cast Lead operation against the Palestinian Hamas in Gaza earlier this year, DEBKAfile's military sources report.
"This is not a hit-and-run, this is a sustained action" to clean out the rebel camps in coordination with the Yemeni authorities, said a Saudi source Thursday night.
Sources in Riyadh report a number of Saudi casualties in the first hours of combat. The Saudis decided to send troops into northern Yemen to wipe out the Yazdi Houthi bases after the rebels crossed into Jizan Tuesday, Nov. 3, and captured three villages in the rugged Jebel al-Dukhan district. They killed a Saudi soldier and injured eleven before being driven out.
At this point, the oil kingdom's royal rulers decided to draw the line lest the Yemeni revolt spill over into southern Saudi Arabia's Shiite Muslim tribes which have an affinity with the Yazdis, a branch of the Shia. Most of all, they are concerned to prevent pro-Iranian fighters from encroaching on Saudi soil.
In the last two weeks, Saudi warships have helped the Yemeni navy apprehend at least three ships bringing fresh arms supplies from Iran to the Houthis, by the same method as Tehran arms supplies reach Hizballah and Hamas.
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