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The War in Yemen: Saudi-led forces launch assault on Hudaida

15 June, 2018, 14:22 | Author: Ted Wilson
  • Residents of the city collect water from an Oxfam water tank

Some 2,000 troops who crossed the Red Sea from an Emirati naval base in the African nation of Eritrea landed west of the city with plans to seize Hodeida's port, Yemeni security officials said.

Yemeni forces backed by a Saudi-led coalition launched an offensive to retake the rebel-held port city of Hodeida, a key aid hub, sparking calls from the global community for restraint.

The United Nations and other aid groups already had pulled their worldwide staff from Hodeida ahead of the assault. Hodeida is the main entry point for food and humanitarian aid for the entire country.

The deaths are the first casualties to be confirmed by coalition forces since launching the assault against Hodeida early Wednesday.

Four UAE soldiers were killed during the assault on the port city on Wednesday according to the General Command of UAE's armed forces.

The Saudi-led coalition backing Yemen's exiled government launched the assault on Hodeida on Wednesday, raising warnings from aid agencies that Yemen's humanitarian disaster could deepen.

On Monday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo released a statement, saying the USA was "closely following developments in Hudaydah".

The United Nations says 22 million Yemenis need humanitarian aid, and the number at risk of starvation could more than double to more than 18 million by year-end unless access improves.

Griffiths expressed his concern towards the military escalation and its consequences on both the humanitarian and political levels, urging self-restraint by all parties.

The United Arab Emirates, a member of the Western-backed alliance, set a Tuesday deadline for the Iran-aligned Houthis to withdraw from the port of Hodeidah under U.N. -led talks. "No direct attacks have been reported within Hodeida city itself, despite the overhead presence of fighter jets". The other two being the Strait of Hormuz and the Suez Canal. He said vulnerable families are being given monthly food rations, hygiene kits, emergency shelter kits and "protection services". "But the needs - fuel, water, and food and health care ... all these are going to be impacted very badly, and they're already impacted drastically".

The global aid group warned of a "high risk of a second outbreak" should water supplies be disrupted. "[Hudaydah] would have been another port they could have controlled", the source said. Saudi-led airstrikes that killed large numbers of civilians and damaged vital infrastructure.

United Nations refugee chief Filippo Grandi said there was a danger Yemenis might try to flee across the sea to Somalia or Djibouti.

Nine pro-government troops were killed in the same area, the medics said.

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The United States rejected a request from the UAE for intelligence, mine-sweeping and airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) assets for the Hodeidah operation, a UAE official said, speaking on condition of anonymity, while noting congressional opposition.

Ahmed al-Haj in Sanaa.

U.S. officials confirmed the attack and that the ship was on fire, while adding that the vessel indeed was owned by the UAE, CNN reported.

They say the fighting is raging in the coastal areas of ad-Durayhimi district.

"Some civilians are entrapped, others forced from their homes".

"We continue to use every opportunity to avoid military confrontation in Hodeida", said Griffiths.

Yemen's exiled government "has exhausted all peaceful and political means to remove the Houthi militia from the port of Hudaida", it said in a statement.

"Addressing the humanitarian situation in a sustainable and effective manner requires liberating Yemen from the control of Houthi militias which intentionally disrupt the flow and distribution of humanitarian supplies". The port is some 150 kilometers (90 miles) southwest of Sanaa, Yemen's capital held by the Houthis since they swept into the city in September 2014.

The Saudi coalition did not immediately confirm the incident.

Saudi-owned satellite news channels and later state media announced the battle had begun, citing military sources. By Wednesday morning, the diplomatic efforts were overshadowed by fighting.

The alliance intervened in Yemen to restore the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi and thwart what Riyadh and Abu Dhabi see as the expansionist aims of their Shi'ite foe, Iran.

"We hear sounds of explosions". The United Nations and worldwide aid organizations pulled staff out of the city and surrounding area before the deadline.

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