Friday, 16 November, 2018

Saudis Announce Start of Attack on Key Yemen Aid Port

Saudis Announce Start of Attack on Key Yemen Aid Port Saudis Announce Start of Attack on Key Yemen Aid Port
Patty Aguilar | 13 June, 2018, 23:20

Tribal fighters loyal to the Yemeni government stand by a tank in al-Faza area near Hodeida, Yemen June 1, 2018. He said the U.N. Security Council must act to secure a cease-fire before the people of Hodeida "suffer the same fate as those in Aleppo, Mosul or Raqqa".

Both the United Nations and International Committee of the Red Cross has called on all sides in Yemen's war to protect civilians following the latest air and ground assault.

"These are the last and final hours to get unconditional guarantees that the Houthis will leave the port", UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash told Reuters, but declined to discuss military operations.

The United Nations and aids groups have been scrambling to stall the attack, warning that an assault on Hodeidah could spiral out of control, compounding already arguably the worst humanitarian disaster in the world. Effort to kill Trump tariffs blocked Trump stokes confusion with pledge to halt Korean war games Five takeaways from Trump's summit with Kim Jong Un MORE and Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoWith caveats, Republicans praise Trump's summit with Kim Jong Un Pavlich: Pompeo: The man for the job on North Korea Five takeaways from Trump's summit with Kim Jong Un MORE on the eve of the offensive expressing "grave alarm".

The sources said UAE-backed Yemeni forces - drawn from southern separatists, local units from the Red Sea coastal plain and a battalion led by a nephew of late former president Ali Abdullah Saleh - were "at the doors" of Hodeidah airport. A Saudi-led airstrike in 2015 destroyed cranes at Hodeida.

The UN says some 600,000 people live in and around Hudaida, and "as many as 250,000 people may lose everything - even their lives" in the assault.

The United Nations says 8.4 million Yemenis are on the verge of starvation, and for most the port is the only route for food supplies.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said it had positioned food, medical supplies, water purification systems and sanitation supplies in Hudaydah, but that it would struggle to distribute them once fighting reached the city.

Last week, a spokesperson for the White House National Security Council said the United States opposed any effort by the Emirates and Yemeni troops it backs to seize the city.

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It wasn't immediately clear what specific American support the coalition was receiving Wednesday.

Its leader, exiled President Abd-Rabbu Mansour al-Hadi, said his government had proposed compromises but would not let the Houthis hold the Yemeni people "hostage to a prolonged war which the Houthis ignited".

Coalition warplanes and warships were carrying out strikes on Houthi fortifications to support ground operations by Yemeni troops massed south of the Red Sea port, the internationally recognised Yemeni government in exile said in a statement.

The Houthis deny they are Iranian pawns and say their revolt aims to target corruption and defend Yemen from invaders.

The coalition says one of the main justifications for its intervention is to protect Red Sea shipping, which brings Middle East oil and Asian goods to Europe through the Suez Canal.

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

The UAE's Gargash said plans were in place to keep the port operational and urged the global community to pressure the Houthis to evacuate and leave the port intact, without planting mines.

US officials, however, have been skeptical of coalition assertions that Iranian missiles are being smuggled to the Houthis through the Hodeida port, which is subject to a United Nations inspections program. The accusations are denied by the group and Iran.

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