Yemen crisis
Shiite Muslim rebels hold up their weapons during a rally against air strikes in Yemeni capital Sana'a Khaled Abdullah Ali Al Mahdi/Reuters

Rebel leader Abdulmalik al-Houthi has threatened to turn conflict-ridden Yemen into a "graveyard of invaders" if the opposition forces led by Sunni-controlled Saudi Arabia and others decide to deploy ground troops.

Al-Houthi's threat came during a televised address as the Saudi-led forces continue to pound Houthi Shiite targets in Yemen as part of Operation Decisive Storm.

"These criminal, collaborative powers will discover that they committed a huge error with this aggression. If any armies come to occupy, the Yemeni people will prove once again that Yemen is a graveyard of invaders," said Houthi.

"Do not enter into more stupidities. Stop immediately or all options are open. If this aggression continues, there will be no surrender."

Saudi Arabia is spearheading the campaign launched by a coalition of nearly 10 states including the five nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council in support of embattled Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

Although Saudi officials have indicated that there will be no immediate ground invasion, they have not ruled out the possibility in the coming days especially in the wake of the air strikes.

"There are no plans at this stage for ground forces operations, but if the need arises, the Saudi ground forces and those of the friends and sisterly forces are ready and will repel any aggression," Brigadier General Ahmed Asseri told reporters.

Regional war

Egypt, which already provides naval and air force personnel to the ongoing military campaign against the Houthis, has said it will also assist in mobilising ground troops if the need arises.

"Egypt has declared its political and military support, as well as its participation with the coalition with an aerial and naval Egyptian force, as well as a ground force if necessary, in light of Egypt's historic and unshakeable responsibility towards Arab and Gulf national security," Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry told his Arab counterparts during a meeting.

Military officials familiar with the latest developments told the Associated Press that the Gulf nations are preparing for a ground invasion to capitalise on the aerial bombardment.

Meanwhile, Shiite-inclined Iran, which backs the Houthi militia, has heaped scorn on its Arab rivals for launching the air strikes.

"We demand an immediate stop to the Saudi military operations in Yemen and we believe they are an infringement on Yemen's sovereignty. These operations will only lead to bloodshed and we will spare no efforts to contain the crisis in Yemen," Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was quoted as saying in Switzerland.