KHOBA, Saudi Arabia, (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia declared victory over Yemeni Shi’ite rebels on Wednesday following a truce offer from the insurgents, who said they had withdrawn from all Saudi territory.
“We achieved a clear victory,” Saudi Assistant Minister of Defence Prince Khaled bin Sultan told journalists, adding that the rebels had been forced from Saudi land. “We cleansed the area … Withdrawal was not an option for them.”
Rebel leader Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, whose fighters have been battling both Saudi and Yemeni government forces, made the ceasefire offer on Monday, saying he wanted to avoid more bloodshed and protect civilians.
Yemen’s government has been fighting the rebels on and off since 2004. The conflict intensified last summer when Sanaa launched Operation Scorched Earth to quash the latest upsurge in violence.
Saudi Arabia stepped into the fray in November when rebels seized some Saudi territory, prompting Riyadh to wage an offensive against them.
A senior Saudi military official said Saudi Arabia was no longer exchanging heavy fire with the rebels, who no longer remained on Saudi territory. Prince Khaled said some rebel snipers were still active.
“Last night, since they announced a ceasefire, they did not fire and we did not have any engagement,” Major General Said al-Ghamdi, commanding general of first paratrooper brigade, told journalists in the border area. “They are not in our lands.”