Forces loyal to Yemen’s former president on Friday attacked “several locations” on the Saudi border, sparking a battle in which four Saudis and dozens of the Yemenis were killed, the Saudi-led coalition said.
“The Saudi armed forces today were able to repel an attack from the Yemeni side targeting several locations in Jazan and Najran,” a coalition statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency said early Saturday, referring to two Saudi border districts.
“The attack turned out to be coordinated, planned and executed by a formation from the Republican Guard belonging to ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh and with the support of the Houthi militia.”
Some troops loyal to Saleh have been fighting along with the Houthi rebels against forces loyal to exiled President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi in a months-long war in Yemen.
The coalition began air strikes on March 26 against the rebels and their allies in an attempt to halt their southern advance.
Although there have been border skirmishes and deadly rebel shellfire against Saudi Arabia since the war began, Friday’s battle is only the second major ground attack reported against Saudi territory by the coalition.
In late April it said three Saudi soldiers died and dozens of rebels were killed after they attacked the Najran area.
Friday’s offensive “aimed to penetrate our borders”, but was repelled by helicopter gunships, missiles and other forces during the battle which began early Friday and continued until the afternoon, the coalition said.
Saleh, who led the country until 2011, has been on United Nations and US sanctions lists since November. His son Ahmed led the elite Republican Guard during his rule.