RIYADH: Two Saudi Arabian soldiers have been captured by rebels in Yemen, the Saudi-led coalition confirmed on Monday, vowing to bring them back.
“We have evidence that they are alive and they are in captivity with the militia,” Brigadier General Ahmed al-Assiri told AFP after Huthi rebels in Yemen last Wednesday broadcast footage of a man claiming to be a captured soldier.
Dressed in military fatigues, he identified himself as Sergeant Ibrahim Hakmi of a Saudi brigade based in the kingdom’s Jazan border area.
On the rebels’ Al-Masirah television, the man said he was being held along with several other Saudi soldiers.
Assiri said it is a violation of the Geneva Convention to present captives in the media, but the rebels released videos of two soldiers.
“We will do all that is necessary to find them and to bring them back.”
A Saudi-led Arab coalition has conducted air strikes on rebel positions across Yemen since March and has provided troops, training and heavy weapons to local forces seeking to reinstate exiled President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.
There have been deadly skirmishes along the Saudi-Yemen border, which Saudi Arabia has reinforced with troops.
Assiri said the two soldiers were captured at different times, when they became lost and ended up captured on the Yemeni side of the frontier.
“We have three more missing in action. So far we don’t have any evidence about if they are alive or they were killed somewhere in the border.”
He said the coalition has also arrested “some fighters” from the rebel side “but we are respecting the Geneva Convention.”
Riyadh formed the coalition in March to support Hadi in response to fears that the Huthis would take over all of Yemen and move it into the orbit of Sunni Saudi Arabia’s Shiite regional rival Iran.
The United Nations says nearly 4,900 people, including a vast number of civilians, have been killed in Yemen since late March.
At least 66, mostly soldiers, have died in shelling from Yemen and skirmishes along the Saudi frontier.