Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Saudi toll in fight against Houthis is 73 dead
AL-KHOBA/JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia has given Yemeni infiltrators still hiding in the southern border village of Jabiriya 24 hours to vacate the area or face death. “They have 24 hours to surrender, or we will destroy them,” Prince Khaled bin Sultan, assistant minister of defense and aviation, warned Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters in this border town, Prince Khaled said 73 Saudi soldiers have been killed, 470 wounded and 26 missing since fighting broke out in November between Saudi forces and Yemeni infiltrators. “We believe that 12 (of the missing soldiers) were killed, while we do not know about the fate of the remaining 14,” the minister said.
He said the number of wounded had reached 470, adding that the majority of them had been treated and had left hospital, while 60 still remained in hospitals. He said the enemies had suffered heavy losses during the military operation.
This is the first time the Kingdom has given a death toll for the fighting between Saudi forces and Yemeni intruders, which began more than a month and a half ago. On Nov. 3, rebels killed a Saudi border guard and occupied two villages inside Saudi territory.
The following day, Saudi military jets began bombing enemy positions. Prince Khaled said that the main operation is now over. “The southern border is now under the complete control of Saudi forces.”
Informed sources told Arab News that the southern border area was calm on Tuesday.
Prince Khaled said Saudi forces would remain in the area until the last of the intruders are expelled.
“What we are doing now is bringing things to normal. We have also made arrangements to prevent infiltration and other crimes,” the minister told reporters.
He indicated that the infiltrators were backed by foreign parties. “It seems that their allegiance is not to their country.” He praised Saudi forces for their bravery and their efforts in driving away the intruders.