On the front lines of Yemen's brutal civil war

ISTANBUL -- Iraq and Afghanistan may get the headlines, but right now, there is no place in the world more dangerous than Yemen. A three-year-old civil war is at a stalemate. One side is backed by Saudi Arabia, the other by Iran.

The Saudi Arabian government invited us to Yemen to show us their version of the war there.

For nearly three years, Saudi Arabia has been backing Yemeni government soldiers, fighting a brutal war against Houthi rebels who have seized swaths of land. Yemeni Gen. Nasser Al Dhaibany told us Saudi airstrikes are helping him win back barren hills. The Saudis are supported in this war by the U.S.

a27-williams-yemen-transfer.jpg

Yemeni forces aim at Houthi-held positions.

CBS News

Houthi positions were less than a mile away. We asked the general if he's lost family members, and he says "too many." 

Both sides in this fight are accused of war crimes, but with weapons supplied by the U.S., Saudi Arabia is capable of much greater damage. The Saudi-led coalition has hit weddings, market and schools with airstrikes, according to a U.N. report, and aid groups say a Saudi blockade has contributed to starvation and a deadly cholera outbreak, leaving thousands dead.  

williams-yemen-composite3.jpg

Children in Yemen

CBS News

Col. Turki Al-Malki is a spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition. We asked him about accusations that Saudi Arabia has been trying to starve Yemenis into submission, and he said it's not true.

Food is a weapon in Yemen, and both sides know it. A group of men told us Houthis seized their houses, leaving their children homeless and hungry. But only the Saudis are U.S. allies, fighting a bloody war with American support.