Dozens Dead In Battle For Key Yemen Port
Yemeni pro-government forces were locked in heavy fighting with rebels that left 39 people dead on Thursday, as they pressed a Saudi and UAE-backed offensive to retake the key aid hub of Hodeida.
Al Duraihimi, Yemen, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News, app - 14th Jun, 2018 ) :Yemeni pro-government forces were locked in heavy fighting with rebels that left 39 people dead on Thursday, as they pressed a Saudi and UAE-backed offensive to retake the key aid hub of Hodeida.
Yemeni forces backed by a Saudi-led coalition launched an assault on Wednesday to recapture the port city of Hodeida, which has been controlled by the Iran-allied Huthi rebels along with the capital Sanaa since 2014.
The Huthis suffered 30 fatalities on Thursday in the clashes, medical sources told AFP.
Nine pro-government troops were killed in the same area, the medics said. Military sources said the deaths were caused by mines and snipers.
The United Arab Emirates, a driving force in the coalition, said four of its troops were killed on the first day of the offensive Wednesday including at least one navy officer.
The Huthis' television channel earlier said they had struck a coalition ship off the coast of Hodeida with two missiles. There was no independent confirmation of the report.
- Port remains open - The United Nations has warned against an offensive on Hodeida because the port serves as the entry point for 70 percent of Yemen's imports, with the country already teetering on the brink of famine after three years of war.
On Thursday, authorities said the Red Sea lifeline remained open to shipping.
"We still have seven ships in the port. The work in the port is normal. And we have five other ships standing by waiting outside to enter," port director Dawood Fadel told AFP.
Riyadh and Abu Dhabi, which intervened against the Huthis in 2015 with the goal of restoring Yemen's government to power, have pledged to ensure a continuous flow of aid to the Arab world's poorest nation.
Abdullah al-Rabeeah, the head of Saudi Arabia's King Salman Aid and Relief Centre, pledged an air, sea and land bridge would be opened "to transport aid and medical supplies, food, shelter and fuel other basic necessities".
Capturing Hodeida would be the biggest victory for the Saudi-led coalition since the start of its costly intervention.
International aid groups cautioned the threat of a major humanitarian catastrophe was growing as fighting drew closer to Hodeida, with the UN estimating some 600,000 people live in and around the city.
"As air strikes intensify and front lines move closer to Hodeida city, so does the very real threat of harm to civilians in Hodeida," said the Norwegian Refugee Council's acting country director Christopher Mzembe.
The group warned of a "high risk" of a fresh cholera outbreak around Hodeida should water supplies be disrupted.
Before the Security Council met behind closed doors, Sweden called for the UN body to demand an immediate halt to the assault to allow time for talks on a rebel withdrawal and to avert a humanitarian disaster.
But UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash insisted in a statement that "it is clear that for the UN-led political process to succeed, the situation on the ground must change".
Aides to the Yemen's Saudi-backed President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, who has spent much of the war in exile in Riyadh, said he was preparing Thursday to visit the southern port city of Aden, where the government set up its base after it was ousted from Sanaa.
More than 22 million people in Yemen are in need of aid, including 8.4 million who are at risk of starvation, according to the United Nations, which considers Yemen to be the world's worst humanitarian crisis.