Saudis: More than 500 Houthis Killed So Far

More than 500 Iranian-backed Houthi rebels have been killed in clashes on the border with Yemen since the Saudi-led air war against them began, the Saudi Defense ministry said Saturday, according to Al Arabiya, which cited the Saudi Press Agency.

It was the first reported death toll for the clashes since Saudi Arabia, heading an Arab military coalition, launched its first air strikes against the Houthis on March 26.

Meanwhile, the Saudi death toll doubled to six on Friday when three soldiers were killed and two wounded as mortar fire hit their observation post in Najran province, according to a ministry spokesman.

Three Saudi border guards were killed last week in an attack by the Houthis, who control parts of northern Yemen.

Speaking at a daily press briefing in the Saudi capital Riyadh, Defense Minisry Spokesman Brig. Gen. Ahmed Asiri said Sunday the coalition found evidence of Iranian support to the Houthi rebels. On Friday, two Iranian military officers advising Houthi rebels were captured in Yemens strategic southwestern port city of Aden, according to Al Arabiya News Channel.

Asiri said a total of 1,200 air sorties have been carried out by the 10-state coalition since the operation began 16 days ago.

Saudi Arabia is not at war with Iran, the kingdoms Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al Faisal said on Sunday.

In a joint press conference with his French counterpart Laurent Fabius, who is in Riyadh to express support for the anti-Houthi colaition, Prince Faisal said the role the Iranians have played in Yemen "exacerbated the problem which led to an increase in violence in the country."

"How can Iran call for us to stop the fighting in Yemen ... We came to Yemen to help the legitimate authority, and Iran is not in charge of Yemen," Prince Faisal said.

"Concerning Yemen, we are here to demonstrate our support, especially political, to the Saudi authorities," Fabius told reporters.

The Houthis, allied with army units loyal to ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh, have been fighting forces loyal to President Abdrabbu Mansour Hadi.

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