AL-KHUBAH, Saudi Arabia — Saudi Arabia said Nov. 10 that it will conduct air strikes against Yemeni rebels until they pull back from its borders. Iran warned against regional intervention in the conflict without naming Saudi Arabia.
"We are not going to stop the bombing until the Houthis pull back several dozen kilometers from our border," Deputy Defence Minister Prince Khaled bin Sultan said on a visit to Saudi troops in the south-western province of Jizan. His statement appeared to confirm reports by Shiite Zaidi rebels that Saudi warplanes continued to pummel them inside Yemen, one week after a rebel raid into Saudi territory sparked air and ground bombardment of their positions.
Another Saudi Arabian government adviser said the kingdom has also imposed a naval blockade on northern Yemen's Red Sea coast to prevent weapons and fighters from flowing to Shiite rebels in the area. The adviser said Tuesday that Saudi warships were ordered to search suspicious vessels sailing near northern Yemen. He spoke on condition of anonymity as he had not been authorised to speak to the media. Saudi-owned
Amid charges that the rebels have Iranian backing, rebel chief Abdel Malek al-Houthi said his group "has no links with any foreign political power in the confrontations underway" with Yemeni forces. Khaled said four Saudi soldiers were still missing, but did not comment on a Houthi video posted on the internet of a man they claimed was a captured Saudi soldier.
Saudi forces have been shelling rebel positions in the 2,000m Jebel al-Dukhan mountain area straddling the border since Nov. 4, after the rebels killed a border guard and occupied two small villages inside Saudi territory. This was the first overt action by Saudi forces against the Houthis since Yemeni forces launched operations against the insurgents in the north of the country on Aug. 11. Security experts say the Saudis have been providing funds and intelligence to support the Yemeni military forces.
In Tehran, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki warned regional powers against intervention in Yemen, without identifying Saudi Arabia by name. "Countries of the region must seriously hold back from intervening in Yemen's internal affairs. Those who pour oil on the fire must know that they will not be spared from the smoke that billows," Mottaki said.
Yemen, which has accused Iran of supporting the rebels, announced in October that it had captured five Iranians attempting to smuggle a boatload of weapons to them.