Yemeni Citizens Say Hodeidah Battle Brings Sanaa Closer to Freedom


Forces from an alliance of Arab states seized the entrance to the airport in Yemen's main port city on Friday, in an offensive against the Iran-aligned Houthi movement that the United Nations fears could trigger a starvation imperilling millions of lives.

The Arab League said it supported the coalition, especially in Hudaida.

The Saudi-led coalition has imposed an air, sea, and land embargo on Yemen since March 2015, aiming to dislodge the Houthis from cities they control, paralyzing trade and access to the country. Military sources said the deaths were caused by mines and snipers.

The Red Sea port, controlled by the Iran-backed Houthi rebels, serves as the entry point for 70 per cent of the impoverished country's imports, but the coalition maintains that the rebels use it to smuggle weapons. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement Monday that the US expressed its "desire to address [UAE] security concerns" in Yemen, so long as humanitarian aid efforts are preserved.

The UN Security Council on Thursday called for a key port in war-ravaged Yemen to be kept open to deliveries of vital food and humanitarian supplies after the Saudi-led coalition launched an offensive to seize Hodeida.

"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.

He added that this hostile act by the Iranian-supported terrorist Houthi militias proves the continued involvement of the Iranian regime in supporting the armed Houthi militias with qualitative capabilities, in clear defiance of UN Security Council Resolutions 2216 and 2231 in order to threaten the security of Saudi Arabia and destabilize regional and worldwide security.

The Houthis' television channel earlier said they had struck a coalition ship off the coast of Hodeidah with two missiles.

The Saudi-led coalition began its assault Wednesday on Hodeida, the main entry for food into a country already on the brink of starvation.

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The United Arab Emirates' ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva says the four Emirati troops who were killed in Yemen were taking part in the campaign to retake the port city of Hodeida.

Fighting on the ground is focused on the area around Hodeidah's airport, to the south of the city, and the United Nations reported that aid shipments continued to flow at Hodeidah's port.

The Houthis generate USD30 million to USD40 million a month in revenue from the port, the UAE official estimated.

The Saudi-led coalition backing Yemen's exiled government began its assault Wednesday on Hodeida, the main entry for food into a country already on the brink of starvation.

That includes the Security Council, which according to The Associated Press announced after its closed-door meeting that it has "deep concerns about the risks to the humanitarian situation" in Hodeidah. "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".

Huthi urged his troops to "confront the forces of tyranny", warning they would recapture areas taken by pro-government forces by bringing "huge numbers" of fighters to the battle, according to the rebels' Al-Masirah TV.

Despite the joy in the faces of most of the population in Sana'a, citizens fear a consequent disruption of the port's work and the disruption of the flow of goods and fuel to Sanaa and other provinces under militia rule.

"The offensive against Hodeida risks triggering catastrophic consequences for all of Yemen", Russia's foreign ministry said in a statement yesterday ahead of the Security Council meeting later in the day. In a statement, he held the U.S. and Britain responsible for the Saudi-backed attack on the vital port city. Over 14300 people, mostly civilians have lost their lives since then.

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.