Published: Sat, June 23, 2018
World News | By Laverne Osborne

Yemeni government forces enter Hodeida airport, UAE says

Yemeni government forces enter Hodeida airport, UAE says

Coalition forces led by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia on Tuesday stormed Yemen's airport in the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah amid fierce resistance from Houthi rebels, pro-Yemeni-government media spokesman Baseem Al-Jenani said.

The UN Security Council again reiterated its call for the Houthi-held ports of Hudaydah and Salif "to be kept open and operating safely" in a press statement issued after closed door briefings by UN Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths and UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock.

Al-Jenani said on his Twitter account that the coalition forces, including two Yemeni southern battalions and Sudanese troops backed by military air cover, fought their way into the airport. "My children are terrified". "There is death and destruction everywhere in this city", he said.

The U.N. World Food Programme said on Tuesday it was hastening to unload three ships at the port that contain enough food for six million people for one month.

The Western-backed alliance launched the onslaught on Hudaida seven days ago in order to turn the tables in a long-stalemated proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran that has compounded instability across the Middle East. "The streets are nearly empty, deserted", he said, adding that most were heading for Sanaa, Raymah and Wusab, in Houthi-controlled areas inland. Fierce fighting this month has displaced 5,200 families mostly from districts south of the city, United Nations officials said, adding that the number of those fleeing the violence was expected to rise.

It sparked an outcry from relief organisations who warned of the risk of starvation if aid shipments and commercial food imports were not fully restored.

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Crossing the border between official ports of entry is and has always been illegal, according to U.S. There were more than 50 at the official crossings in April and March each, according to the figures.

Witnesses said coalition warships and warplanes have been hitting the airport and the eastern side of Hodeida around the clock since late Monday, aiming to cut off the main road that links Hodeida and the rebel-held capital, Sanaa. But Hodeidah is well defended as it constitutes the key supply line to Houthi-controlled territory including Sanaa.

United Nations envoy Martin Griffiths held four days of talks in the rebel-held capital, Sanaa, in a bid to avert an all-out battle for the city, but flew out yesterday without announcing any breakthrough.

In a televised address, Houthi leader Abdul Malik al-Houthi said fighting would not cease even if the coalition regained the whole country.

The ICRC, along with other aid groups, has been forced to suspend many of its operations in western Yemen, leaving civilians across the country at risk.

A member of the Houthis' ruling politburo, Mohammed al-Bukhaiti, denied the talks with Griffiths had focused on handing over Hodeidah "because this request is unrealistic". They say their movement reflects a popular revolt against state corruption and foreign meddling.

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