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Saudi Arabia retracts '40,000 Egyptian troops in Yemen' comment

The Saudi-led coalition has been carrying out airstrikes in Yemen since March 2015 [Getty]

Date of publication: 19 April, 2017

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A Saudi general has stepped back from previous comments he made claiming that Egypt had offered to send up to 40,000 ground troops to Yemen to fight Houthi rebels.

A Saudi general has walked back on previous comments that Egypt had proposed sending up to 40,000 ground troops to Yemen to fight against Houthi rebels.

Ahmed Asiri said on Tuesday that he meant Egyptian involvement as a part of the Arab League's joint military force - not the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen.

"I was speaking about a previous suggestion made by Egypt during discussions on forming the joint Arab force at the Arab League," Asiri told Egyptian state media.

"It had nothing to do with taking part in Yemen," he added.

On Sunday, Asiri confirmed that Egyptian naval and air forces were currently taking part in the Saudi-led operation in Yemen.

In January, Egypt's national defence council extended the military's participation in the war in Yemen for an unspecified period of time.

An unnamed Egyptian official told local media on Monday that Egypt has never offered to send ground forces to Yemen.

"Saudi Arabia had asked Egypt to send ground troops but we said a definite 'no' on this matter. This is one of the main reasons for the recent dispute between the two countries," the official said.

Sisi met Saudi King Salman last month on the sidelines of the Arab League summit in Jordan, breaking the ice after months of tensions between the longtime allies.

The Saudi-led coalition has been carrying out airstrikes in Yemen since March 2015.

The conflict in Yemen pits an internationally-recognised government backed by the Saudi-led coalition against the Houthi rebels, who captured the capital, Sanaa, in September 2014.

The coalition comprises of the Gulf monarchies Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and the UAE, along with Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Sudan.

In 1962, Egypt intervened militarily in Yemen in support of a coup seeking to oust the country's monarchy.

The long and costly quagmire became known as "Egypt's Vietnam", in which up to 20,000 Egyptian troops were killed.

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