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Saudi forces repel Houthi attack

Published 01/05/2015

A Saudi soldier stands alert on the Saudi-Yemen border in Najran. (AP)
A Saudi soldier stands alert on the Saudi-Yemen border in Najran. (AP)
A cross-border attack on Saudi Arabia by Yemeni rebel forces resulted in late-night clashes. (AP)

Three Saudi soldiers and "dozens" of Yemeni rebels have died after clashes in a southern Saudi province, officials said.

A statement from the Saudi Defence Ministry said a group of Yemen's Shiite rebels attacked "border posts and control points" in Najran on Thursday night. Saudi forces, backed by air force fighter jets, repelled the attack, the statement said.

A Saudi-led coalition of mostly Sunni Arab nations has been conducting airstrikes inside Yemen for more than a month, seeking to blunt the advance of rebel forces who have overrun the capital, Sanaa, and were advancing deep into southern Yemen.

The Shiite rebels, known as Houthis, are allied with military and security forces loyal to ousted former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Yemen's Western-backed president, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, fled the capital earlier this year after being placed under house arrest by the rebels.

He temporarily set up a provisional capital in the southern port city of Aden, but later fled the country as the rebels forces advanced on Aden and now operates from the Saudi capital, Riyadh.

Despite more than a month of airstrikes, the campaign has largely failed to halt the rebel advance into southern Yemen. However the Saudi government claims its coalition campaign has destroyed much of the rebel stockpile of missiles and heavy weapons.

The United Nations estimates than more than 500 Yemeni civilians, including more than 100 children, have been killed by airstrikes and violence.

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