Local media channels belonging to Iranian backed Houthi militias in Yemen reported at least 18 Saudi Arabian soldiers were killed by the group while guarding the border between the two countries.
The Al Massira television channel run by the Houthis reported that the group attacked a Saudi military outpost on the border near the Houthi stronghold of Saada, killing 18, though no details on time of the attack were given.
The channel also purported that a number of Saudi military equipment was destroyed in the attack.
The report could not be immediately verified by other Yemeni or Saudi media outlets.
Backed by Iran, the Houthis took control of the Yemeni capital of Sanaa in September through an armed uprising, causing the Yemeni government to flee to Aden after the group attempted to disband the Yemeni government in January.
Houthi forces began a military campaign to take Aden in April, forcing the government to escape the country to neighbouring ally Saudi Arabia, where it has set up office in the capital of Riyadh.
Saudi Arabia leads a coalition made up primarily of Arab League states conducting air strikes against Houthi targets aiming to halt the group’s advances.
Reports of the deaths came as Saudi shells landed near a refugee center in the town of Maydee.
Reuters cited a local official claiming that the explosions killed five Ethiopian refugees.
The recent developments in Yemen came just weeks before planned UN peace talks between the clashing parties are set to take place in Geneva on May 28.
Saudi Arabia’s envoy to the UN, Abdullah AL Mualami, told reporters Wednesday that Iran would be excluded from the talks due to the country’s role in sparking the unrest which is at risk becoming a civil war.
His words came after a joint decision by counterparts and coalition members from the Yemeni government and Qatar.