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Saudi-Led Alliance Gears Up for Battle in Key Yemeni Port City

17 June, 2018, 13:19 | Author: Kristen Ingram
  • Battle for Yemen's biggest port under way

The Saudi-led coalition has been criticized for its airstrikes killing civilians.

Late Thursday, Yemen's Foreign Minister Khaled Alyemany told a group of United Nations reporters in NY that military operations by the Saudi-led coalition are not taking place near the port but in an area close to the airport.

The ambassador's comments contradict the conclusions of a United Nations panel of experts that said it was unlikely the Houthis were using the port for smuggling arms. They say a network of minefields in the rebel-held areas has hindered the advance of government forces. They spoke on condition of anonymity as they weren't authorized to brief journalists.

The attack on Hodeida, however, could derail that effort. Naval forces, they said, are ready to join the fighting from the southern side of Hodeida. The requests were for aerial satellite imagery, other surveillance and reconnaissance, and minesweeping, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to publicly discuss the matter.

The officials say the forces assigned to break into the city are comprised of three brigades of UAE-backed Amaleqa bridges. More than 30 were carried out on Wednesday, according to officials from a Britain-based NGO.

"Such hostile acts by the Iran-backed Houthi militias prove the continuing involvement of the Iranian regime in supporting the Houthi militias with qualitative capabilities in a flagrant and explicit violation of the two United Nations resolutions No. 2216 and 2231 with the objective of threatening the security of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as well as the regional and global stability".

Exiled President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and many of his advisers now live in Saudi Arabia after Shiite rebels known as Houthis seized the capital, Sanaa, in September 2014.

The war pits the Houthis against the Western-backed Sunni Muslim states, which intervened in 2015 to restore the exiled government and thwart what Riyadh and Abu Dhabi see as expansionist aims Iran.

The Houthis did not immediately acknowledge the start of the battle.

"They continue to deploy along the front lines in anticipation of the start of the battle", the source said.

Al Arabiya is believed to be at least partially owned by Saudi Arabia's government.

Four Emirati soldiers were killed in Wednesday's assault, the United Arab Emirates' state-run news agency said, but gave no details of how they died.

Late Thursday, Saudi Arabia's United Nations ambassador said there were two ships, each carrying 5,000 tons of food, ready to dock immediately at the port of Hodeida.

Social media users shared video of what appeared to be a convoy of vehicles approaching the crucial port city early Wednesday morning.

"We hear sounds of explosions".

Emirati Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash also wrote several tweets Tuesday night suggesting an attack on Hodeida was imminent.

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