Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Saudi Air Force Continues Pounding Huthi Rebels | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Jizan, Asharq Al-Awsat- An informed Saudi Arabian source has stated to Asharq Al-Awsat that the Saudi Arabian Air Force intensively patrolled the region from Tuesday afternoon until midnight on Wednesday. The Saudi Arabian Air Force bombed a number of Huthi targets after the Saudi Arabian Parachute Regiment called in air support in response to an attempted Huthi ambush in one of the border villages.

The Air Force’s intervention resulted in the sounds of explosions being heard throughout the region until the early hours of the morning with the Air Force’s patrol continuing throughout the night. Smoke was observed rising from areas along the border, north of the Jabal Dokhan region, where the [military] operations to rout the Huthi infiltrators from Saudi territory continues unabated.

The source revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat that the Saudi Arabian military continues to arrest Huthi infiltrators who are in possession of a variety of weapons, including machine guns and rocket propelled grenades. The source also stressed Saudi Arabia’s success in uncovering and destroying a number of Huthi weapon caches.

The source also said that some Huthi infiltrators changed their direction [in an attempt to avoid detection] after crossing the border into the al-Hareth governorate, infiltrating the nearby al-Ardha governorate. The source added that Saudi forces presence in this region is ongoing, and they have succeeded in arresting a number of Huthi insurgents.

Military sources also revealed that the Saudi Parachute regiment is participating in the ongoing operations along the front lines, and that they have carried out a number of operations against the Huthi insurgents. The military source informed Asharq Al-Awsat that the Parachute Regiment is patrolling the Jabal Dokhan and Jabal Rameeh regions, and all areas along the front lines [of this conflict] in order to ensure that they remain free from the presence of Huthi insurgents. The source stressed Saudi Arabia’s complete military control of these regions.

The military source added that parachute units had managed to surprise the enemy and limit Huthi movement [in these areas] as paratroopers were able to access difficult to reach areas in the rugged mountain terrain. The source also confirmed that the Parachute Regiment was providing military support which was allowing the rest of the Saudi armed forces to implement their objectives, enabling them to successfully capture a number of enemy strongholds and Huthi insurgents.

Furthermore, informed sources revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat that 30 Huthi insurgents were killed when Saudi forces destroyed a Huthi weapons cache located in the mountainous border territory. Saudi security forces also discovered another weapons cache in the al-Malha village.

Sources revealed more details surrounding the discovery of this weapons cache, revealing that it had been discovered by one of the patrols of the “Al-Mujahedeen” force which is affiliated to the Interior Ministry. This patrol was involved in a fire fight with the Huthi rebels [guarding this weapons cache], killing one and arresting twelve others. The Saudi security apparatus immediately questioned the 12 captured Huthi insurgents, discovering the location of a number of large arms and ammunition caches located in Saudi territory. Saudi forces promptly raided these locations, destroying the weapons and ammunition. Saudi forces continued to patrol the region, with sources reporting that dozens of Huthi insurgents had been killed in clashes with the Saudi Arabian military.

The Saudi military also arrested a Huthi rebel who was attempting to hide amongst the evacuated Saudi citizens on Wednesday. The Huthi rebel had disguised himself as a woman, and was attempting to flee the region in this manner. However he was observed acting suspiciously and members of the Saudi armed forces were successful in ambushing him and preventing his escape. Following questioning, it was discovered that the Huthi insurgent was attempting to carry out acts of espionage by discovering the strength and position of Saudi forces.

The Saudi border guards, armed forces, and military police, set up checkpoints at all entrances to the al-Hareth governorate in order to prevent residents from returning to the region which was [officially] declared a restricted military zone.

The large number of patrols being undertaken by the Saudi Arabian Air Force in the region – stationed at the King Khalid Air Base in Khamis Mushayt – has resulted in all civilian flights from the King Abdullah airport in Jizan being forced to change their course. Some civilian flights have seen an increase of 20 percent on their original flight times, particularly those flights to and from Riyadh and Dammam.

A Saudi Arabian Airlines pilot, flying the Dammam to Jizan route, said that pilots must now fly longer routes in order to avoid military aircraft, before returning to their normal route. This has caused delays to many flights in the region.

Sources in al-Hareth governorate revealed that the return of those evacuated by the military remains a pending issue, and nobody is sure when this will be able to take place, particularly in light of military supplies continuing to be transferred to the border region, and the Huthi insurgents continuing to infiltrate Saudi Arabian territory.

Sheikh Abdullah Ali Jarish – the Sheikh of the al-Hazaheer tribe in al-Hareth – who was involved in the military evacuation of Saudi citizens from the area said “the information that is available at this time does not give any indication about the possibility of the displaced citizens returning in the coming days.” He added that this would most likely happen after we begin to see a decrease in military activities and air force patrols of the border region.

Saudi military units continue to operate at a high-pace, with Saudi military convoys being seen throughout the region, and the [military] operation to drive the Huthi insurgents from Saudi soil taking place in earnest. This is something confirmed by Assistant Minister of Defense and Aviator, Prince Khalid Bin Sultan, who during his visit to the region on Tuesday informed Asharq Al-Awsat that the displaced citizens would only return to their homes after the security situation in the region was confirmed to be stable, and armed [Huthi] elements had ceased all attempts to infiltrate the Saudi interior.

For his part, General Adel Zamzami, the Director of Civil Defense in Mecca, who is leading the relief efforts in the Jizan province, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the number of people displaced in the border region continues to increase. He also indicated that there are [currently] one thousand displaced citizens staying in the accommodation camp [set up for this purpose] which is located in the Ahad al Mousaraha governorate. Zamzami said that alternative accommodation was being organized in the region to give the displaced citizens an alternative to the camp, including furnished flats and youth hostels.

General Adel Zamzami clarified that the Civil Defense tasks and responsibilities include providing security and protection to the displaced citizens staying in the relief camp, in addition to providing essential services, as well as medical service and supplies, and ensuring that all services are provided to those staying at the camp.