Saudi Arabia has said four Saudis were killed on Friday after the Iranian-backed Houthis and forces loyal to former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh launched attack at Yemen border areas.
A Saudi official said the attack came from the Yemeni side into Saudi Arabia’s Jizan and Najran areas where clashes took place as from early hours of the day and lasted for hours, cited by Saudi state-run SPA news agency, adding tens of Yemeni soldiers were also killed.
Saudi Arabia and the Houthi forces have been exchanging fire across the border since Saudis launched a military operation on March 26, including air strikes, in Yemen against the Houthi militia with a coalition comprised of 10 countries for what they called to intervene in the escalating sectarian crisis which has gripped the country.
After they had started the operation, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, in a joint statement, said they "have decided to answer the call of President Hadi to protect Yemen and its people from the aggression of the Houthi militia."
The attack came amid the Houthi statement of “supporting the United Nations efforts to organise Yemeni-Yemeni dialogue,” giving sign for the start of peace talks.
The Houthis seized the capital Sanaa last September and now have the control of much of Yemen with the help of Saleh’s forces. However, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries fear that the Houthis, who share Shia sect with Iran, would cause Iran to spread its influence in the peninsula.
Both President Hadi and the Houthis together with Ali Abdullah Saleh might start the talks when the Houthi side accepts Hadi’s call for obeying UN Security Council resolution 2216, which passed in April and requires them to quit the cities they capture and recognise Hadi’s presidency.
The Houthis, for their part, require the suspension of the air strikes, lifting the international arms embargo, and to be removed from the UN black list of terrorism.
The UN reported that tens of thousands of people have been killed in war-torn Yemen and more than 100,000 people have been displaced since the beginning of the conflict. The Gulf states blame Iran for causing the mass casualties since it arms the Houthis, a claim which Tehran denies.