At least five British servicemen from the Special Boat Service (SBS), an elite naval counterterrorism unit, have been wounded during ongoing operations in Yemen. The proxy war in the country has left more than 60,000 dead and 13 million people subject to famine. The operators’ activities in the war-shattered region are cloaked in mystery. Around 30 of these crack British soldiers are based in the Sa’dah region of northern Yemen.

The mission in which the SBS operators were wounded took place in the country’s north. The wounded suffered small-arms injuries upon entering into a firefight against extremely committed and well-prepared Houthi rebels.

The U.K. has loaned its special operations forces out to its partners in the region, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Their mission in Yemen is to train, mentor, and advise UAE- and Saudi-sponsored troops. Saudi Arabia and its partners in Yemen are engaging in a proxy war against Iran, which supports the Houthi rebels.

According to the Daily Mail, “The SBS men were treated for leg and arm wounds following the battles in the Sa’dah area of northern Yemen, where up to 30 crack British troops are based. The casualties are understood to be now recovering in the U.K.”

It is expected that British military engagements in Yemen will spark further controversy in Westminster; there continues to be intense disagreement over British involvement in the conflict. The U.N. has described the war as the worst humanitarian disaster since the Second World War. Five opposition parties in Westminster appealed to the U.K. government to end arms sales to Saudi Arabia, claiming it has contributed to a tragic humanitarian disaster.

UKSF soldier in Afghanistan
Special Boat Service operator conducting operations in Afghanistan

The U.K. Ministry of Defence will never comment on the country’s special operations forces or their operations unless there is a death in the conflict, in which case they will state a British serviceman has been killed. This not to say the country isn’t involved in the conflict, as it is public knowledge that the UK does have a military presence in Yemen.