Saudi Arabian ground forces have advanced into northern Yemen in a forceful assault against Houthi Shia militia and forces loyal to ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh. The news was reported by military and tribal sources in the area of the invasion.
The development is notable as it is Saudi Arabia's first ground offensive in Yemen since it launched a comprehensive military campaign in March targeting Houthi positions. Most attacks to date have been air strikes or rockets fired from across the border.
The fresh attack comes after Houthi militants recently stormed Saudi fortifications in the southern Saudi province of Jizan. Saudi Arabia has also been attacked on several occasions by Scud missiles fired by Houthi rebels, one of which killed a senior Saudi commander last month. The sources told the Anadolu News Agency that Saudi Arabian troops advanced into Saada province, crossing the Yemeni border.
"Saudi ground forces seized control of two areas in Saada province and intend to advance toward Houthi positions," the sources confirmed.
When the Houthis overran capital Sanaa and other provinces last September Yemen descended into chaos. The uprising prompted Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies to launch a massive air campaign against the Shia group which seems to have reached a point of diminishing returns.
Pro-Hadi forces, which are backed by Saudi air power, have recently managed to retake Taiz and Aden from the Houthis.
The forceful military incursion underscores newly appointed Saudi King Salman's resolve to assert his country's influence in the region and his unwillingness to sit idly as his country is attacked by Houthi forces.
As news of the invasion hit the wire, the benchmark WTI crude contract promptly shot above $45 a barrel, its highest level in days.