Saudi air force intercepts Houthi-launched missile targeting Jazan

13 Juin, 2018, 14:26 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • UN scrambles to avert'fierce bloody battle for Yemen port

The United Nations and other aid groups already had pulled their global staff from Hodeidah before the rumoured assault.

Hodeidah, Yemen's biggest port and the only port controlled by the Houthis, serves as the lifeline for the majority of Yemen's population, which lives in Houthi-ruled territory.

A source from the Yemeni National Resistance said that a large number of forces from Brigades AlAmalaqah and the Tihama Resistance Forces, armed with modern weapons and in high morale, have arrived at the outskirts of Al Hodeidah city to continue their build-up in the front lines in preparation for the battle of rolling back the Houthi militias and putting and end to the coup plot in Yemen.

The United Nations had been trying to get the parties to reach a deal that would avert an attack on Hodeidah, which it fears would further impede Yemenis' access to food, fuel and medicine, exacerbating the world's most urgent humanitarian crisis in the impoverished Arab state.

Saudi media is reporting that the official start of the attack on the Yemeni port of Hodeidah.

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.

The Hudaida port is crucial for the flow of food supplies into a country that is on the brink of starvation.

The Saudi-led coalition did not immediately acknowledge the incident.

The assault is the first time since the Western-backed coalition of mostly Gulf states joined the war in 2015 that they have attempted to capture such a well-defended major city.

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The civil war in Yemen has killed about 10,000 people over the past three years and created what the United Nations says is the world's worst humanitarian disaster. The Saudi-led coalition has been criticized for its airstrikes killing civilians.

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.

Washington had also cautioned against the assault.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Monday acknowledged the United States continues to provide support to the Saudi-led coalition.

The air strikes on Wednesday morning targeting Houthi positions are supported by ground operations by Yemeni troops south of the Red Sea port, the internationally recognised Yemeni government-in-exile said in a statement.

The Houthis, with roots in a Zaidi Shi'ite minority that ruled a thousand-year kingdom in Yemen until 1962, deny they are pawns of Iran.

Yemen lies beside the southern mouth of the Red Sea, one of the most important trade routes in the world for oil tankers, which pass near Yemen's shores while heading from the Middle East through the Suez Canal to Europe.

He said the coalition wanted the United Nations to take control of the port but it was prepared to take military action if the Houthis refused to withdraw.

Riyadh says the Houthis use the port to smuggle Iranian-made weapons, including missiles that have been launched at Saudi cities - accusations denied by the group and Tehran.

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