Video footage seemingly showing a significant victory for the Yemeni rebel group Ansar Allah (Houthis) is misleading, according to Colonel Turki al-Maliki, the spokesperson for the Saudi-led coalition.
Speaking during a 30 September press briefing, Col Maliki said Ansar Allah had attempted to encircle and destroy several Yemeni brigades from 26 August, including by using "human waves" against positions in the Kitaf area, around 40 km south of the Saudi border. He said the attempt had failed and the rebels had suffered heavy casualties, with 1,500 killed and 250 vehicles destroyed.
Kitaf is on the road that runs through mountainous terrain from the Saudi border province of Najran to Sadah, Ansar Allah's stronghold.
Ansar Allah announced on 29 September that it had launched a major offensive called Operation 'Nasrallah' against coalition and allied Yemeni forces at dawn on 25 August, with specialised units encircling a large government force in Wadi Abu Jubarah, just north of Kitaf. It said hundreds of government troops were killed and injured and around 2,000 prisoners captured in the ensuing battle.
The group supported its claims by releasing video footage showing its fighters firing on armoured vehicles that included Saudi LAV IIs as they moved at speed along a road through mountainous terrain.
Several LAV IIs and numerous other vehicles were seen destroyed or captured. Hundreds of men dressed in a mixture of Yemeni civilian clothing and military fatigues were presented as prisoners. A small number identified themselves as Saudi soldiers.
While airstrikes were seen in the footage, the group said the kingdom's airpower was mitigated by missile, rocket, and unmanned aerial vehicle attacks on its airbases, as well as by front-line air-defence units that "successfully confronted" Apache attack helicopters, forcing them to withdraw from the battle.
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