Yemen: '300000 kids at risk' as all out bombardment launched on port

Clay Curtis
June 14, 2018

Coalition air strikes targeting Houthi positions along the coast between Baiyt Al Faqih and Ad Durayhimi killed dozens of rebels on Wednesday, a local resident told The National.

The initial battle plan appeared to involve a pincer movement.

Yemeni security officials quoted by the Associated Press said that 2,000 troops had crossed the Red Sea from a UAE naval base in Eritrea, with plans to seize the port at Hodeida. They spoke on condition of anonymity as they weren't authorised to brief journalists.

"All peaceful and political means of removing the Houthi militia from Al Hudaydah port have been exhausted", the government said in a statement carried by Yemen's state news agency Saba.

Hodeidah, Yemen's biggest Red Sea port and the only one under Houthi control, serves as the lifeline for the majority of Yemen's population, which lives in Houthi territory.

The Houthi-run Al Masirah satellite news channel later acknowledged the offensive.

The Saudi-led coalition did not immediately acknowledge the incident.

Forces loyal to Yemen's exiled government and irregular fighters led by Emirati troops had neared Hudaida in recent days. The port is some 150 kilometers (90 miles) southwest of Sanaa, Yemen's capital held by the Houthis since they swept into the city in September 2014. The U.S. has provided the Saudi-led coalition logistical support.

The UAE, which is involved in the ground assault, had given the Houthis a deadline of Wednesday morning to withdraw from Hodeidah or face attack.

"Hodeidah port remains open to shipping".

The coalition launched a major air campaign that the United Nations says has killed thousands of civilians and destroyed critical infrastructure across rebel-held Yemen.

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Aid agencies have warned that the Hodeida offensive would almost certainly deepen the crisis, threatening nearly half a million civilians who live in the city while cutting off critical aid at a time when a third of Yemen's citizens are on the brink of starvation.

Responding to the early stages of the attack-which began with an estimated 30 Saudi airstrikes within half an hour, guided by USA military intelligence-Win Without War wrote on Twitter that the attack is "a dark moment of shame for the United States". The Saudi-led coalition has been criticized for its airstrikes killing civilians.

The Houthis deny they are Iranian pawns and say their revolt is against corruption and defending Yemen from invaders. Parts of Yemen are also held by Al-Qaeda and ISIS. Though some officials have said the USA has been pushing the UAE not to attack the port, more recently the signs are that the U.S. intends to have its military participate in the attack itself. A Saudi-led airstrike in 2015 destroyed cranes at Hodeida.

The U.N. says some 600,000 people live in and around Hodeida, and "as many as 250,000 people may lose everything - even their lives" in the assault.

Last week, a spokesperson for the White House National Security Council said the U.S. opposed any effort by the Emirates and Yemeni troops it backs to seize the city.

"We hear sounds of explosions". We are concerned about missiles and shells.

Aid workers had similar fears.

"We have had more than 30 airstrikes within 30 minutes this morning around the city".

He said dozens of families have fled their homes in the city, heading to the countryside. "We thought it could not get any worse, but unfortunately we were wrong".

The UN special envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, said the world body was talking to both sides to try to avert a battle. This has made it by far the most important port for humanitarian aid, with estimates that as much as 70% of aid comes through the port.

"I think the Emiratis have done a good job in presenting compelling arguments about why an operation (on Hodeidah) could in the end tip the balance and apply enough pressure to bring the Houthis to the table", a Western diplomat said on Monday.

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