The Saudi-led coalition in Yemen has dismissed claims by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels that they carried out a large-scale ambush that led to hundreds of deaths and the capture of thousands of prisoners of war.
In a Monday news conference, coalition spokesman Col. Turki al-Malki called the Houthi announcement “theatrical,” describing it as part of “attempts to mislead” international and regional media.
On Sunday, Houthi rebels released video purporting to show the apparent aftermath of an August attack that they said killed hundreds of Saudi-backed troops and led to the capture of 2,000 others.
Houthi spokesman Brigadier Gen. Yahya Saree said Houthi forces had also wrested control of 350 square kilometers (135 square miles) of land from coalition forces in what he hailed as the “biggest trap.”
CNN has not been able to verify Saree’s claims or footage purporting to show droves of people apparently surrendering.
The video released by the Houthis showed four individuals who were apparently captured and claimed to be Saudi soldiers. Armored vehicles were also seen driving through narrow mountain roads under fire, with about a dozen destroyed or burned.
On Monday, Malki described the incident as a “failed ambush attempt” by the Houthis which the coalition thwarted. Malki claimed that more than 1,500 Houthis were killed, and 250 weapon- and supply-transporting vehicles destroyed. CNN could not independently verify Malki’s characterization of the incident.
Malki said he had previously detailed the incident in a news conference in early September.
Yemen’s Saudi-backed Information Minister Moammar el-Eryani also denied the Houthi claim, slamming it as an attempt to “promote fake victories.”
Yemen has been embroiled in a years-long civil war that has pitted a coalition backed by Saudi Arabia against the Iran-backed Houthi rebels.