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Operation Victory from God
Part of the Saudi Arabian–Yemeni border conflict (2015–present) and the Yemeni Civil War (2015–present)
Najran Offensive Phase 2 (2019).svg
Map of the operation's last stage
     Houthi forces      Saudi-led forces
Date25 August – late September 2019
LocationYemen–Saudi Arabia border
Result Houthi victory, denied by Saudi Arabia

(Supreme Political Council)

Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia

  • Allied Yemeni tribal forces[2]
Commanders and leaders
Mohammad Nasser al Atefi[2]
(Supreme Political Council defense minister)
Brig. Gen. Musa Bin Dhaher Al-Balawi[3]
(joint operations commander)
Radad al-Hashemi[4]
(Al Fateh Brigade)
Units involved
Houthi fighters[2]
Popular Committees[1]

Armed Forces of Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabian National Guard[2]
Al Fateh Brigade[2]
Several infantry, armored, and missile battalions[2]
(thousands of fighters)
at least 3 brigades
Casualties and losses
unknown According to the Houthis:
500 Saudi-led troops killed
"thousands" captured[3]
15 military vehicles destroyed[5]

Operation Victory from God was a military operation reportedly carried out by Yemeni forces loyal to the Houthi-led Supreme Political Council from late August to late September 2018,[2][3] targeting Saudi Arabia and allied forces along the Saudi-Yemeni border.[6] At the operation's height in late September, the Houthi-led forces reportedly encircled and destroyed a substantial concentration of Saudi-led forces.[2] The Houthi military spokesman Yahya Saree in a press conference, said that three Saudi-led brigades alongside KSA forces[7] were sieged and defeated following a 72 hours battle south of Najran. Thousands of enemy forces were reported casualties[8] with over 500 Saudi led forces killed and 2,500 captured.[5] and 15 vehicles burned out. According to the Houthi spokesman, the Saudi brigades were preparing for a major attack against the Houthis in retaliation to the attack on Abqaiq and Khurais oil facilities, however the Houthis were able to lure the Saudi troops into their trap. According to the Houthi military spokesman, the Saudis then conducted airstrikes targeting the Saudi captives but the spokesman assured the families of the captives that they were able to hide and protect them from the coalition airstrikes.[9][10] The Houthis have described the attack as "the largest operation since aggression started on our country (Yemen)".[11][12]

Prelude[edit | edit source]

Following the Houthi takeover in Yemen, a border conflict erupted along the Yemeni-Saudi border. Saudi-backed forces attempted to advance into the Houthis' core territories of northern Yemen, while pro-Houthi forces launched incursions into Saudi Arabia.[3][13] Besides the general enemity between the Houthis and Saudi Arabia, the border conflict also takes place amid the still contentious issue where the border should be located in the first place. The southwestern Saudi Arabian province of Najran was traditionally part of Yemen until it was conquered by the former in 1934. Since then, many Yemenis continue to regard Najran as Yemeni territory.[3]

In late 2019, Saudi-led forces under Brig. Gen. Musa Bin Dhaher Al-Balawi[3] launched a major offensive into Saada Governorate, pushing backed the area's Houthi-led defenders.[13] The pro-Saudi units included several Yameni tribal militias,[3] most importantly the al-Fatah Brigade.[13] Facing relatively light resistance, the al-Fatah Brigade and some Saudi Arabian Army troops dispersed in northern Saada Governorate's canyons and mountains, most importantly Jabara Valley, leaving them vulnerable to counterattacks. Furthermore, the Saudi-led forces' supply situation remained problematic, as the Houthis held onto the strategically important location of Tanab.[13]

Operation[edit | edit source]

The Battle of the Jabara Valley, the first phase of Operation Victory from God.

Operation Victory from God began on 25 August 2019, as Houthi fighters[2] and allied militias (Popular Committees)[1] allegedly began to attack Saudi-led troops at about 300 points[2] in the area between Najran and Jabara Valley.[3] In late August, about 4,000 Houthi-led troops encircled and besieged a significant part of the al-Fatah Brigade in Jabara Valley. The Royal Saudi Air Force provided inadequate support, and the morale of the encircled troops plummeted due to a lack of food and water. A few hundred managed to break through the Houthi siege, but the rest eventually surrendered. One al-Fatah Brigade militiaman later accused the unit's commander, Major General Radad al-Hashemi, of gross incompetence during the battle.[13] By 1 September, the remaining troops of the al-Fateh Brigade still clashed with advancing Houthi forces at Kitaf in Saada Governorate.[2]

On 28 September 2019, the Houthi military spokesperson Yahya Saree said that during an operation launched 72 hours ago[14] near the border with the southwestern Saudi region of Najran, three "enemy military brigades had fallen" which was supported by the group's drone, missile and air defence units. "Thousands" of Saudi troops, including many officers and soldiers of the Saudi army, as well as "hundreds of armoured vehicles" were captured.[15][16] The spokesman said that the Yemeni fighters are capable of further penetrating into Saudi territories "in case it continues its aggression against Yemen".[16] He assured the family of captives, "they will be kept in a secret place in order to keep them safe from any harm."[16]

The Long War Journal, an United States-based news website, analysed the footage released by the Houthis. It concluded that the number of Saudi losses was probably grossly exaggerated, and that most of the shown prisoners of war did not belong to regular Saudi troops but to pro-Saudi Yemeni militias. However, some of the captured vehicles and surrendered soldiers belonged to the Saudi Arabian National Guard. Furthermore, the Long War Journal argued that the footage was probably compiled from several smaller clashes which had occurred from August to September, instead of indicating one massive battle. Regardless, the news website also regarded the fottage as genuine, stating that "it is evident from the video and subsequent photos that hundreds of Saudi troops and allied tribal fighters have indeed been killed or captured in recent weeks."[2] In contrast, the Saudi-led coalition spokesman denied all Houthi claims on 30 September, clamining that the alleged operation was "theatrical" and merely served as an attempt to mislead the media.[17]

The attack came after three weeks from the Abqaiq–Khurais attack. After the Abqaiq and Khurais attack, the Houthi movement offered a peace initiative and a unilateral halt of all drones and missile attacks inside Saudi Arabia and said that they are waiting for Saudi Arabia to do the same. In the following days, reports from media stated that Saudi Arabia agreed on limited cases-fire. However, the Houthi leader rejected the limited cases-fire calling it insufficient move and that the movement would not agree except on "a comprehensive stop to the aggression and the lifting of the blockade".[18][19]

Aftermath[edit | edit source]

On 29 September, the head of the Houthi committee for prisoner-of-war affairs, Abdul Qader al-Murtada said that they are going to free 350 war prisoners, the following day the Houthis unilaterally released 290 war prisoners including those who survived the Saudi-led coalition airstrike attack on a prison in Dhamar, Yemen which killed more than 100 war prisoners.[20] As the BBC reported, Yahya Saree, a spokesman of the Houthi-controlled forces, said Saudi captured would be paraded on the group’s TV network on Sunday.[18]

Following the offensive, the country's foreign minister used his address to the United Nations General Assembly to focus blame on Iran. He said that "The solution rather lies in prompting these militias to implement the agreement and honoring the obligations they have assumed before the whole world".[21]

Pro-Houthi media consequently reported that leading Saudi commanders in the Saudi-Yemeni border region srtepped down or were dismissed due to the success of Operation Victory from God.[3] According to Al-Alam TV, al Fatah Brigade commander Major General Radad al-Hashemi resigned from his position after the attack.[4] However, al-Hashemi denounced these claims, arguing that his militia had not been defeated.[22] The Northern Border Fronts and Yemeni Press Agency also reported that Brigadier General Musa Bin Dhaher Al-Balawi had been dismissed.[3]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Yemeni military reveals footage of 2nd phase of " Victory from God" operation". 2019-10-02. https://www.uprising.today/yemeni-military-reveals-footage-of-2nd-phase-of-victory-from-god-operation/. 
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 Weiss, Caleb (29 September 2019). "Houthis claim major operation inside Saudi Arabia". Long War Journal. https://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2019/09/houthis-claim-major-operation-inside-saudi-arabia.php. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 3.9 "Report: Saudi dismisses commander over Houthi attack in the kingdom". Middle East Monitor. 11 October 2019. https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20191011-report-saudi-dismisses-commander-over-houthi-attack-in-the-kingdom/. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 "قائد لواء الفتح التابع لقوى العدوان يعترف بالهزيمة" (in Arabic). Al-Alam News Network. 2 October 2019. https://www.alalamtv.net/news/4469926/%D9%82%D8%A7%D8%A6%D8%AF-%D9%84%D9%88%D8%A7%D8%A1-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%81%D8%AA%D8%AD-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AA%D8%A7%D8%A8%D8%B9-%D9%84%D9%82%D9%88%D9%89-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D8%AF%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%86-%D9%8A%D8%B9%D8%AA%D8%B1%D9%81-%D8%A8%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%87%D8%B2%D9%8A%D9%85%D8%A9. Retrieved 14 October 2019. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Houthis Release Shocking Videos Of Operation Victory From God". September 29, 2019. https://southfront.org/houthis-release-shocking-videos-of-operation-victory-from-god/. 
  6. "Yemen's Houthis Claim Invasion of Saudi Arabia, Capture of Thousands of Troops in Najran". https://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/09/29/yemens-houthis-claim-invasion-saudi-arabia-capture-thousands-troops-najran. 
  7. "Operation Victory From God: Houthis Neutralize Thousands Of Saudi-Led Coalition Personnel In Large-Scale Ambush". September 28, 2019. https://southfront.org/operation-victory-from-god-houthis-neutralize-thousands-of-saudi-led-coalition-personnel-in-large-scale-ambush/. 
  8. Desk, News (September 28, 2019). "Houthi forces capture Saudi Army officers in big attack along Yemeni border". https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/houthi-forces-capture-saudi-army-officers-in-big-attack-along-yemeni-border/. 
  9. "الحوثيون يعلنون سقوط 3 ألوية للتحالف وأسر مئات العسكريين السعوديين". September 28, 2019. https://arabic.cnn.com/middle-east/article/2019/09/28/yemen-huthi-forces-saudi-coalitition. 
  10. Chmaytelli, Maher (2019-09-28). "Yemen's Houthis say attacked Saudi border frontline, no immediate Saudi confirmation". https://www.reuters.com/article/yemne-security/yemens-houthis-say-attacked-saudi-border-frontline-no-immediate-saudi-confirmation-idUSB2N24901O. Retrieved 28 September 2019. 
  11. "Yemen: Houthi rebels claim capture of 'thousands' of Saudi troops". https://www.dw.com/en/yemen-houthi-rebels-claim-capture-of-thousands-of-saudi-troops/a-50627382. Retrieved 29 September 2019. 
  12. "Yemen's Houthis announce capture of 'thousands of enemy troops'". https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/09/yemens-houthis-claim-thousands-enemy-troops-captured-190928154003971.html. Retrieved 29 September 2019. 
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 13.4 Hassan Mohammed (3 October 2019). "روايات من قلب الانتكاسة .. كيف وقع لواء الفتح فريسة سهلة للحوثيين" (in Arabic). Balqees TV. https://belqees.tv/yemen/%D8%B1%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%8A%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D9%85%D9%86-%D9%82%D9%84%D8%A8-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%AA%D9%83%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%A9-%D9%83%D9%8A%D9%81-%D9%88%D9%82%D8%B9-%D9%84%D9%88%D8%A7%D8%A1-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%81%D8%AA%D8%AD-%D9%81%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%B3%D8%A9-%D8%B3%D9%87%D9%84%D8%A9-%D9%84%D9%84%D8%AD%D9%88%D8%AB%D9%8A%D9%8A%D9%86.html. Retrieved 14 October 2019. 
  14. "Iran-backed Houthi rebels claim attack on Saudi military post". https://www.timesofisrael.com/iran-backed-houthi-rebels-claim-attack-on-saudi-military-post/. Retrieved 28 September 2019. 
  15. "Yemen war: Houthi rebels claim mass capture of Saudi troops". https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-49866677. Retrieved 28 September 2019. 
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 "Yemen: Houthis claim capture of thousands of troops in Saudi raid". https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/09/houthis-claim-capture-thousands-saudi-troops-attack-190928144722091.html. Retrieved 29 September 2019. 
  17. "Saudi-led coalition denies Houthi claims of troop capture". https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/09/saudi-led-coalition-denies-houthi-claims-troop-capture-190930193102187.html. 
  18. 18.0 18.1 "Yemen Rebels Say They've Captured Many Saudi Soldiers in Attack". https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-09-28/yemen-shiite-rebels-take-control-of-three-najran-military-bases. 
  19. "Saudi Arabia Agrees to Limited Cease-Fire in Yemen War". https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-09-27/saudi-agrees-limited-cease-fire-with-houthis-yemen-official. 
  20. "Yemeni rebels release hundreds of detainees". BBC News. September 30, 2019. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-49880517. 
  21. "At UNGA, Yemen Says Iran Stands In The Way Of Peace". https://en.radiofarda.com/a/at-unga-yemen-says-iran-stands-in-the-way-of-peace/30189702.html. Retrieved 29 September 2019. 
  22. اليمني, المشهد (October 22, 2019). "كيف رد "رداد الهاشمي" على عملية الحوثيين في كتاف ومقتل وأسر مئات الموالين للشرعية وماهو الخطأ القاتل الذي تسبب بالكارثة؟ | المشهد اليمني". https://www.almashhad-alyemeni.com/145563. 

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