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UN relocates aid in Yemen, fearing access

23 June, 2018, 03:01 | Author: Kristen Ingram
  • Al Hudaydah is currently controlled by Houthi rebels

Yemeni military officials say fighting has escalated outside the airport of the vital Yemeni city of Hodeida, pitting thousands of pro-government fighters backed by a Saudi-led coalition against Iranian-backed Shiite Houthi rebels.

The Joint Resistance Forces succeeded in taking full control of the village of al-Manzar, west of Hodeidah airport - where the Houthi militias were holed up - in precise and decisive strikes that confused their ranks and exhausted their military capabilities, Emirates News Agency (WAM) reported.

Residents said clashes at the airport have abated but coalition warplanes were bombing positions held by the Iran-aligned Houthis as the group dug in to defend Hodeidah, its sole port and the lifeline for millions of Yemenis.

While the overall war in the Arab world's poorest country has been led by Saudi Arabia, the ongoing battle for the Red Sea port city of Hodeida has fallen squarely on the shoulders of the UAE, a US -allied federation of seven sheikhdoms.

The war has seen over 10,000 people killed and sparked a major cholera epidemic.

The UN is already anxious the worst humanitarian crisis in the world will be exacerbated by the fight as civilians across all of Yemen depend on food, water, and medicine from the port city.

Griffiths arrived in the rebel-held capital Sanaa on Saturday and is expected to leave on Tuesday, according to a Houthi official. "The Houthis have been using tanks", a resident close to the coastal strip told Reuters by telephone, asking not to be identified.

"The political moves that are being proposed are being supported by us. but the situation is now very volatile", he said.

There was no immediate comment from Aramco or Saudi officials about the claim.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Prince Zeid Bin Ra'ad Al-Hussein, yesterday expressed deep concern over attacks by the Saudi-led coalition on the Yemeni city of Hudaydah.

The coalition has said it intends to quickly secure the port and then avoid pitched battles in Hodeidah city, where some 600,000 people are estimated to live.

"The rebels have also begun to dig trenches in the streets", he said.

The Saudi-led coalition launched the campaign to retake Hodeida last Wednesday, with Emirati troops leading the force of government soldiers and irregular militia fighters backing Yemen's exiled government.

Saudi state TV had earlier said that Saudi air defenses had intercepted a Houthi missile launched on the city of Khamis Mushait, which is also in Asir.

The Houthis, meanwhile, have laid land mines, killing and wounding civilians, targeted religious minorities and imprisoned opponents.

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