Published: Sun, June 17, 2018
Worldwide | By Angelina Lucas

Yemen rebel attack kills 12 soldiers south of Hodeida

Yemen rebel attack kills 12 soldiers south of Hodeida

"The fighting is getting close to the al-Manzar area near the airport and people are fleeing in fear", said Mohammed Abdullah, who works for the city's Houthi administration.

"My family left for Sanaa yesterday but I stayed behind alone to protect our home from looters", he said.

The U.A.E. and Saudi Arabia are part of a coalition backing Yemen's internationally recognized government in its attempt to capture the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah.

The Houthis are backed by Iran.

The Red Sea port of Hodeida is the main entry for food into a country already on the brink of starvation.

Military officials said preparations were under way for a final push to take the airport and that the ground battles had largely subsided by sunset Friday.

Although the coalition says it has "exhausted" all diplomatic means and insists that humanitarian aid will continue once the operation is complete, the USA is trying to distance itself from the assault, according to CBS.

But Khaled Alyemany told a group of United Nations reporters in NY on Thursday that the government thinks Houthi Shiite rebels who control Hodeida "might blow up the installations of the seaport".

The airport source said that Hadi returned to Aden just few hours after the arrival of Prime Minister Ahmed Obeid bin Daghr along with his ministers and other high-ranking officials in Aden's International Airport.

"Our imminent victory in Hodeidah will be the ... gateway to retrieving our kidnapped capital and exerting the influence of the government over every inch of the country", he said.

Saudi Arabia - Yemen's northern neighbor and Iran's principal rival in the region - soon intervened with a coalition that includes the United Arab Emirates and gets logistical support from the US, seeking to reinstate Yemen's government.

State-run Saba news agency said the aim of Hadi's first public visit to the country in more than a year was to "supervise" the military operations in Hodeida province.

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The rebels launched the attack on the coast road from the government-held ports of Khokha and Mokha along which Saudi backed troops advanced on Hodeida earlier this week, the military source said.

"We are not directly supporting the coalition offensive on the port of Hodeidah", Pentagon spokesman Maj.

The Houthis have controlled Hodeida for the last two years. The official also said the United States had rejected a request for such help. It will be the second time the Council convenes this week over the situation in Yemen, which aid groups warn stares at an imminent humanitarian crisis.

The assault is a dramatic gamble by the Arab states, who insist that they can swiftly capture the port without a major disruption to aid supplies for a country already experiencing the world's most pressing humanitarian crisis.

"Our desire in Hodeidah is not to infuriate the Houthis or to kill as many of them as we possibly can", he said. Over 150 ballistic missiles have been fired into the kingdom by the Houthis, according to Saudi officials.

The U.S. has not publicly opposed the assault but has urged the coalition to ensure that humanitarian aid deliveries to the port continue.

Western countries have quietly backed the Arab coalition, but the threat of humanitarian catastrophe could unravel that support.

The war in Yemen is one of several regional conflicts that pit allies of the Sunni Muslim Arab states against forces aligned to Shia Iran. Instead, they say they took power in a popular revolt and are defending Yemen from invasion by its neighbours.

Sweden had urged the council to call for an immediate freeze to military action on Hodeida, but the council statement made no such call, reflecting divisions among its 15 members.

The U.N. Security Council is again calling for the key Yemeni ports of Hodeida and Saleef to be kept open and reiterating support for a political solution as the only way to end Yemen's three-year conflict. "And we have five other ships standing by waiting outside to enter", port director Dawood Fadel told AFP.

On Thursday, authorities said the Red Sea lifeline remained open to shipping.

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