Published: Mon, June 18, 2018
World News | By Laverne Osborne

Fierce fighting intensifies outside Yemen's Hodeida airport

Fierce fighting intensifies outside Yemen's Hodeida airport

On Wednesday, the Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (UAE) launched an air and ground offensive on Hudaida, Yemen's third largest city, in the biggest battle in the three-year war between the coalition and Iranian-aligned Houthi rebels.

The UN Security Council met behind closed doors on Thursday to address fears that a Saudi-led coalition's offensive on a key port in Yemen will lead to a humanitarian catastrophe.

The Saudi-led coalition's largest assault in the armed conflict with Yemen, Operation "Golden Victory", appears not to have gone as smoothly as possible after the U.S. denied a request from the United Arab Emirates to supply intelligence, minesweeping and surveillance assets during the invasion of the key port of al-Hudaydah.

Previously, a Saudi military spokesman told the channel that forces were within six kilometers (four miles) of Hodeida's airport.

The UN estimates some 600,000 people live in and around the city.

The United Nations and other aid groups already had pulled their global staff from Hodeida ahead of the assault.

The request for mine sweepers was diverted to France, which said it was considering minesweeping in Hodeida after the end of military operations there.

Capturing Hodeidah, the Houthis' only port, would give the coalition the upper hand in the war, in which neither side has made much progress for years.

Adrian Galloway (USMC). However, the Wall Street Journal reports that the Trump administration is now considering a request from the UAE for deeper involvement in the attempt to retake Hodeidah from Houthi forces.

In a statement Saturday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said "we stand with our United Nations partners to call on all parties to the conflict to protect the port, and allow its uninterrupted functioning".

Ali al-Ahmed, the Emirati ambassador to Germany, told Reuters there were 60,000 tonnes of humanitarian aid ready on ships and trucks to move into the region once the fighting died down.

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General Assembly meeting to vote on a resolution condemning Israel's "excessive use of force". The statement was issued Wednesday ahead of an emergency U.N.

The assault began Wednesday to seize Hodieda's vital Red Sea port, known as the "mouth of Yemen" because it's the entry point of most of the country's imports and United Nations humanitarian aid.

Tribal fighters loyal to the Yemeni government stand by a tank in al-Faza area near Hodeida, Yemen June 1, 2018. About a quarter of a million people are in danger of injury or death in an urban assault, the United Nations said.

Gregory Johnsen, a resident fellow at the Arabia Foundation in Washington and a former member of a Yemen panel of experts at the U.N. Security Council, suggests that the Trump administration sees eye-to-eye with Riyadh and Abu Dhabi about the need to confront Iran in the Arabian peninsula.

UN Humanitarian Coordinator Lise Grande has announced that "as many as 250,000 people may lose everything -even their lives", if there is a military attack on Hudaydah.

"And we think when the time is appropriate we (will) also push hard the Houthis to leave our capital and restore the stability in Yemen", Alyemany said.

Meanwhile, Col. Aziz Rashed, the spokesman for an army unit allied with the Houthis, told a news conference in the capital, Sanaa, that the rebels foiled a naval attack by government forces backed by the Saudi-led coalition in waters off Hodeida.

There was, however, not enough support to urge Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) - which back pro-government Yemeni forces - to halt the offensive.

Coalition-backed Yemeni forces took control of al-Durayhmi in southern Hodiedah province, an armed forces faction said in a statement. Over 70 percent of Yemen's imports go through Hodeida.

Saudi warplanes targeted a house in a border district of Sa'ada.

In a press statement Thursday after an emergency closed-door meeting, the council expressed "deep concerns about the risks to the humanitarian situation" following the launch of an offensive against Hodeida by the Saudi-led coalition. "If they keep Hodeida and its revenues and its strategic location, the war will last a long time and (add to) the suffering of the Yemeni people".

The coalition has blocked most ports, letting supplies into Hodeida in co-ordination with the U.N. The air campaign and fighting have disrupted other supply lines, causing an economic crisis that makes food too expensive for many to afford.

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