A coalition armored vehicle on fire after being ambushed by Houthi rebels
The Saudi-led coalition against Iranian-backed Shiite Houthi rebels and their pro-Saleh supporters in Yemen continues to experience losses in both southern Saudi Arabia and inside Yemen. While the coalition has been able to retake several cities and towns in southern Yemen, the Houthi rebels continue to be successful in taking out coalition armor, as well as some positions inside southern Saudi Arabia.
Houthi rebels, through their official satellite channel Al Masirah TV, have released several videos in the past detailing the destruction of Saudi and Emirati vehicles in Yemen and in southern Saudi Arabia. [See Threat Matrix report, Gulf states pay price for intervention against Houthis in Yemen.]
Al Masirah continues to release videos showing Houthi attacks against the coalition. Footage released yesterday shows Houthi rebels and pro-Saleh supporters targeting coalition troops, including Saudis and Emiratis, in Marib province. Several armored vehicles are shown being destroyed, while several coalition troops are seen retreating from the battlefield. A second video shows an ambush on more Saudi and Emirati armored vehicles in Marib.
The footage was released as Emirati troops are reporting success inside the province and the capital city of Marib. The capture of Marib, which borders Sanaa province, allows the coalition to enter Sanaa, the capital of the Houthi government. Pro-Hadi military officials, who are allied to the Saudi-led coalition, said that their forces lost seven fighters in Marib and killed 11 Houthi rebels. While the coalition has made gains in city, the Houthi rebels have continued to make gains in Taiz province near Jerrah mountain.
The UAE has reported two soldiers killed in recent days, bringing its death toll to 54 since the start of this month. The UAE reportedly sent 3,000 troops and armored vehicles to Yemen last last month in order to support the Saudi-led intervention in the country.
The other 52 Emirati troops were killed by a Houthi missile strike on a coalition base earlier this month. At least 10 Saudi troops and five Bahraini troops were also killed in the attack. The Houthis have also released a video showing the launch of the Tochka ballistic missiles on the base in Marib. In response to the missile attack, Qatar deployed 1000 troops and 200 armored vehicles to assist the coalition. Al Jazeera has reported that the Qatari troops will be responsible for securing Jawf province. Saudi Arabia has also increased airstrikes on Houthi-held cities, which has led to more civilians being killed inadvertently. It was also reported that Egypt planned on deploying troops to Yemen, but Egyptian military officials have since denied this claim.
In more recently released footage, the Houthis claim to have captured the Dar al Nasr military outpost in the southern Saudi province of Jizan. In a second video from Jizan, a Saudi military convoy is shown being ambushed near Dar al Nasr. At least two destroyed armored vehicles are shown before the convoy withdraws from the area. The Houthis then claim that two US-made Abrams tanks were captured.
The Saudis are said to have tried to recapture the outpost, but have so far been unsuccessful. Their forces were reported to have lost five soldiers “by fire from across its border with Yemen” over the weekend, according to the Associated Press.
Despite making gains against the Houthis in Marib and in Aden, the Gulf states are paying a price for their intervention in Yemen. The UAE has lost the most troops in combat since its establishment in 1971. The coalition continues to see armored vehicles and even US-supplied Abrams tanks captured or destroyed in both Yemen and Saudi Arabia. And while the coalition is focused on combating the Houthis, the intervention has also had the effect of strengthening al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
AQAP has been able to exploit the chaotic situation and make several gains in the country. The jihadist group captured the coastal city of Mukallah in Hadramout province in April and freed over 300 prisoners after overrunning the city’s prison. As the Houthis were overrunning Sanaa, AQAP was able to capture a military base in Shabwa province. AQAP reportedly also captured several districts inside the strategic port city of Aden.
The Islamic State also has a fledgling “wilayat” in the country and the group has been able to mount several attacks on Shiite mosques in Yemen.