Battle for Yemen's biggest port under way

15 June, 2018, 02:00 | Author: Dustin Murphy
  • Red Sea port of Hodeidah Yemen

"The liberation of the port is the start of the fall of the Houthi militia", Yemen's exiled government said of the attack.

The Arab coalition also struck the main road linking Hodeidah to the capital Sanaa to block reinforcements, residents and anti-Houthi Yemeni military officials said. Houthi forces have fired such missiles at ships previously.

The officials said government forces have headed to the eastern coast aiming at cutting off a rebel supply line between Hodeida and Sanaa.

For the last three years the Saudi-led coalition hasn't made any major advances.

On Tuesday, the exiled government said its forces and allied Saudi-led troops launched their assault after "exhausting all peaceful and political means". The Saudi-led coalition entered the war in March 2015.

The United Nations fears the assault could drastically worsen already desperate conditions in the region's poorest country.

Yemeni forces massing around Hodeida are a mix of local fighters, those loyal to President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, and supporters of the ex-head of state, Ali Abdullah Saleh.

More than 10,000 people have died and 3 million displaced in that time.

Lise Grande, the United Nations humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, said the organisaiton would continue to deliver aid supplies.

The humanitarian assistance being sent by worldwide organizations have been looted by the Houthis in control of Hodeida port, while also preventing goods and oil derivatives from entry, causing famine, starvation and poverty inside the province, the report said.

Last month, the committee advanced legislation making United States midair refueling contingent on Saudi and Emirati efforts to engage in diplomacy, ensure access of humanitarian goods, reduce civilian casualties and avoid damaging critical infrastructure.

Despite the fighting, the United Nations is still supplying aid.

The UN special envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, said the world body was talking to both sides to try to avert a battle.

UAE's WAM news agency said: "The four were martyred while carrying out their national duties during operation "Restoring Hope" alongside the Arab coalition in support of legitimacy in Yemen". Lasting peace and stability in Yemen will require dialogue and negotiation.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson warned in a statement that the military operation around Hodeidah must not disrupt the flow of goods through the port.

A major battle in Hudaydah has potentially grave implications for the already-dire humanitarian situation in Yemen.

The attack came as Washington was focused on President Donald Trump's summit this week with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

"We do not provide any additional support to the Saudi coalition's military operations", he said. "We are there and delivering, we are not leaving Hodeidah", UN humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, Lise Grande, said. "The administration and the Saudis should take this language as yet another clear signal that Congress will not stand idly by as the US-supported coalition continues to kill and starve civilians in Yemen with impunity". The Houthis, from a Shi'ite minority, deny being Iran's pawns and say they took power in a popular revolt and are defending Yemen from invasion.

The UAE has said coalition forces plan to keep the port operational but warned the Houthis could sabotage infrastructure and place land and sea mines as they withdrew.

Reem al-Hashimy, the UAE minister of state for global cooperation, has said if the port is wrested from the Houthis, the coalition could ease controls, aimed at denying the group arms, and so improve the flow of goods and aid into Yemen.

Bin Salman, the Saudi ambassador, wrote that Houthi rebels have attacked commercial and military ships, including those belonging to the U.S. He added that the "liberation of Hodaidah" is critical because of the threat Iran-backed Houthis pose to the security of the Red Sea.


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