More than 1,000 Saudi troops have reportedly been killed since early 2015, when the Riyadh regime and a coalition of its allies unleashed a bloody war against Yemen.
The death toll was registered after more than a dozen Saudi forces were killed during recent cross-border operations against Yemen, Al Jazeera reported on Tuesday, citing Saudi state media outlets.
This is a rare admission of the Saudi military casualties. The kingdom has a policy of withholding information on the casualties it has suffered during the war.
Meanwhile, figures released by the Yemeni Ministry of Human Rights suggested that over 600,000 people have been killed or injured in the Saudi-led campaign, which is meant to crush Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement and reinstall its former Riyadh-friendly officials.
The Houthi movement, backed by allied Yemeni forces, has been defending the country in the face of Saudi-led attacks.
Yemeni forces have recently stepped up their counter-attacks, taking their operations to border regions of Saudi Arabia, where they usually carry out ground and missile attacks against positions belonging to the Riyadh military.
Over three years into the war, signs of resentment are showing up among the Saudi troops amid the prolonged war, which has well fallen short of achieving its declared objectives.
“Some Saudi soldiers are now openly talking of their anger and resentment of being neglected by authorities,” the Al Jazeera report said.
One soldier said, “We live in fear. We don’t have enough food. We look as if we’re begging. We didn’t ask for millions or promotions. We just need to pay our debts and get the services we deserve. We need our salaries to send them to our families for them to be able to live. I wish he will give us more attention.”
He was apparently referring to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is also the kingdom’s defense minister and architect of the war.
Coalition seeking to choke Yemen lifeline
The entire Yemen is inching towards outright famine driven by the Saudi-led coalition’s blockade enforced on the country’s ports. The United Nations estimates that 22 million Yemenis are in need of food aid and more than eight million are threatened by severe hunger.
Saudi Arabia enforces the blockade to allegedly prevent the transfer of arms to the Houthi Ansarullah movement.
Reuters on Monday reported that the coalition is advancing towards the Yemeni port city of al-Hudaydah despite international warnings against any attempt to seize the area which receives the bulk of the country’s imports.
“Hudaydah is 20 kilometers (12.43 miles) away and operations are continuing,” the coalition’s spokesman Colonel Turki al-Malki said at a press briefing in the Saudi capital on Monday.
The US-backed coalition once sought to overrun the port last year, but backed off apparently amid international pressure, with the UN warning that the port’s seizure would have a “catastrophic” impact.
On Sunday, however, Abdul Malik Badreddin al-Houthi, Ansarullah’s leader, warned them against further escalation.
“The decision of invading the Yemeni western coast has been taken and adopted by the United States of America,” he added. “Those who bet on the support of foreign forces will never reach satisfied results.”
Washington has deployed a commando force on Saudi Arabia’s border with Yemen to help destroy the Houthi’s arms. It has also been providing the invasion with logistical support and aerial refueling.