- A spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen denied the claim, accusing the Houthis of waging a "misleading media campaign."
- The Houthis also showed footage yesterday of what they described as a major attack near the border with Najran in southern Saudi Arabia.
- In a related event, the Houthis released 290 prisoners today, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said in a statement.
A spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen accused the Houthis of waging a “misleading media campaign.” The accusation was the coalition’s first response after two days of silence on the Houthis’ announcement of a major offensive near the Saudi border and the taking of prisoners.
A spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, Colonel Turki al-Maliki, broke two days of silence on Monday and described the announcement by the Houthi Ansar Allah movement as “theatrical” and “attempts to mislead.” The Houthis claimed to have carried out a qualitative attack near Narjan, taking hundreds of officers and soldiers as prisoners. Maliki denied the claim, accusing the Houthis of waging a “misleading media campaign.”
The Houthis pose a threat to world trade, and Maliki accused them of failing to comply with the agreement reached in the Swedish capital, Stockholm. Meanwhile, in a related event, the Houthis released 290 prisoners today, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said in a statement. This includes 42 survivors of a Riyadh-led coalition bombing of a detention center in Dhamar province last month.
In a statement, the UN envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, welcomed the release of the prisoners, saying he hoped that this step will be followed by further initiatives that will facilitate the exchange of all those detained in connection with the conflict. The UN envoy also called on all parties to ensure the safe return of released detainees to their homes.
In its statement, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) considered the release of prisoners “a positive step that will hopefully revive the release of detainees in conflict” under the Swedish agreements. Ahead of the Red Cross announcement, the Houthis said they planned to release 350 prisoners, including three Saudis. The release of the prisoners came after the Houthis announced at the end of the week that they had captured some 2,000 members of the internationally recognized pro-government forces, including hundreds of Saudi officers and soldiers.
The Houthis also showed footage yesterday of what they described as a major attack near the border with Najran in southern Saudi Arabia. Houthi forces spokesman Yahya Serai told a news conference on Sunday that there were more than 200 people targeted by dozens of raids while fleeing or surrendering, stressing that “more than 2,000 fighters” have been captured.
Since 2014, Yemen has been at war with Houthi rebels, supported by Iran, and forces loyal to the government of recognized President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi. Fighting intensified in March 2015 as Saudi Arabia intervened at the head of a military alliance in support of government forces.
The Houthis have recently stepped up attacks using drones and cross-border missiles targeting Saudi cities, and have claimed responsibility for an attack on two Saudi oil facilities on September 14. Riyadh denied this, saying the attack did not come from Yemen, and instead accused Iran of responsibility. Tehran denies responsibility. The Houthis announced on September 20 that they would stop rocket and droning attacks on Saudi Arabia if the coalition halted operations.