|Saudi forces began a series of air raids against the Yemeni rebels last week [AFP]|
Yemeni rebels have released a video of a man who they identify as one of several Saudi soldiers in their custody, as fighting between Houthi rebels and the Yemeni government spilled over into Saudi Arabia.
The rebels posted footage on the internet on Monday showing a man in military uniform. They also posted a picture of a military identification card, which they claim was issued by Saudi security forces.
The rebels identified the man, who is seen receiving medical attention in the video, as Ahmed Abdullah Mohammed al-Amri, but the authenticity of the video could not be independently verified.
The rebels have said they are holding several captured Saudi soldiers after Saudi ground forces crossed into Yemeni territory last week.
Saudi Arabia has denied crossing into Yemen, and has also dismissed claims that any of its soldiers have been captured. The military has admitted that a number of soldiers are missing.
Saudi Arabia began a series of air raids and artillery bombardments against the Houthi group after its fighters reportedly crossed from northern Yemen and took control of an area called Jebel al-Dukhan.
Riyadh later regained control of the area, Prince Khaled bin Sultan bin Abdul-Aziz, the assistant minister for defence and aviation, said on Saturday, according to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).
The rebels have also accused the Saudi air force of using white phosphorous bombs in its offensive.
Mohammad Abdessalam, a rebel spokesman, told the AFP news agency on Monday: “The Saudi air raids resumed this morning. Saudi combat fighter jets launched intense raids against border areas inside Yemeni territory on Sunday night.
“The Saudi military used phosphorus bombs during those night raids, burning mountainous regions.”
A Saudi government adviser denied the charges, telling AFP the military “used flares” and “not phosphorous”.
Hundreds of people have died in northern Yemen since the country’s army began an offensive against the Houthis on August 11.
The fighters, concentrated mainly in the Saada and Amran provinces, are known as Houthis after their late leader, Hussein Badr Eddin al-Houthi, a Zaidi leader who was killed by the Yemen army in September 2004.
An offshoot of Shia Islam, the Zaidis are a minority in a predominantly Sunni Arabian peninsula, but form the majority in northern Yemen. Only a small minority of Zaidis are involved in the Houthi uprising.
The Yemeni government accuses the Houthis of seeking to restore an imamate overthrown in a 1962 coup that sparked eight years of civil war.
The Houthis, now led by Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, Hussein’s brother, insist they are fighting to defend their community against government aggression and marginalisation.