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Saudi Arabia steps up fight against Yemen rebels

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Saudi Arabia said Saturday it has cleared a mountain foothold used by Yemeni rebels along the Saudi Arabia-Yemen border, in what appeared to be part of a larger battle against Al Qaeda's expansion.

The rebels, called Houthis, are followers of the Zaidi sect of Shiite Islam, and the Saudis believe both that they have ties to Shiite-dominated Iran and have Al Qaeda members within their ranks. Saudi Arabia fears they may destabilize Yemen, posing a major security threat to the world's largest oil exporter, reports Reuters.

The fighting near Jabal al Dood began earlier this month after the rebels announced they had killed two Saudi border guards. Last week, nine Saudi soldiers were taken prisoner, apparently by Houthis. The Jeddah-based Arab News said Sunday they had reportedly turned up and were receiving medical treatment inside Yemen, but couldn't confirm those reports.

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