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Saudi Arabia Says Houthi Rebels Forced Out

Yemeni soldiers and tribe members after a battle against al-Houthi Shiite rebels in northern Yemen. Saudi Arabia's Deputy Defense Minister said the rebels have been forced over the border back into Yemen (file photo)

Announcement by deputy defense minister follows a truce offer by the Houthi rebel leader

Saudi Arabia's Deputy Defense Minister Prince Khaled bin Sultan says fighting has stopped along the Saudi-Yemen border. But he says the halt is not because the Houthi rebels left of their own accord - despite a truce offer by the rebel leader.

"Number one, they did not withdraw. They have been forced out of our borders. Unfortunately even with their announcement, there are still some snipers, there and then, the last one was last night. If they want to prove what they said, they have to withdraw even the snipers," bin Sultan said.

Speaking both in English and Arabic at a news conference near the Yemeni border, the Saudi official added two other conditions for a continued calm.

Bin Sultan called for the rebels to return six missing Saudis, and allow the Yemeni government to monitor the border.

Rebel leader Abdul Malek al-Houthi offered a conditioned truce to Saudi forces on Monday. The Houthi rebellion, a six-year insurgency against Yemen's government, spilled over the mountainous border region late last year, prompting Saudi forces to engage the rebels.

The Yemeni government and the rebels remain locked in battle.

As the United States and other nations focus on al-Qaida-linked affiliates in Yemen, Washington has also expressed concern about the Houthi conflict. U.S. General David Petraeus warned Sunday the rebellion could turn into a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and its main regional rival, Iran.

The Saudi deputy defense minister alluded to other foreign intervention in the conflict, saying the weapons his forces had captured could not all come from the Houthis.