Dozens of Yemen rebels dead in Saudi border attack

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia said its forces on Thursday killed dozens of rebels from Yemen who launched their first major attack on the kingdom since Saudi-led air strikes began last month.


Three Saudi soldiers also died in the battle after the rebels targeted their observation posts, the defence ministry said, as its army repelled the assault.

There have been deadly skirmishes before but this is the first time the Saudi military has reported a full-scale Houthi attack on its borders.

Gulf foreign ministers on Thursday meanwhile rejected a proposal to hold talks on neutral ground between rival Yemeni political forces, while an expert report said Iran has been shipping weapons to the Houthis since at least 2009.

The United Nations is trying to bring an end to the weeks-long air campaign and return to peace talks.

After a meeting in Riyadh, the Gulf ministers insisted that talks between Yemen´s political factions be held in Saudi Arabia, which leads an Arab coalition that has been bombing the rebels since late March.

Iran has proposed holding UN talks on ending the war in Yemen in a neutral country, one not represented in the coalition.

But in a statement after talks at a Riyadh airbase the six Gulf Cooperation Council states “affirmed their support to intensive efforts by the legitimate Yemeni government to hold a conference under the umbrella of the GCC secretariat in Riyadh.”

The conference would be attended by “all Yemeni parties and components supporting legitimacy as well as Yemen´s security and stability,” said GCC secretary general Abdullatif al-Zayani.

Thursday´s meeting aimed to lay the groundwork for a GCC leaders´ summit on Tuesday, which will also be attended by French President Francois Hollande.

The GCC groups regional heavyweight Saudi Arabia along with Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates.

All but Oman belong to the coalition, whose warplanes pressed their attacks on rebel positions as the ministers met for about three hours in a chandeliered room.