Yemen port assault could lead to 'catastrophe': Russian Federation

Hugh Fox
June 15, 2018

The coalition insisted its humanitarian aid response would go in parallel with military operations. Yemen is heavily dependent on imported food, fuel and medicine that come through Hodeidah port.

Despite the fighting, the United Nations kept up its aid supplies.

Before dawn on Wednesday, caravans of vehicles seemed to be heading towards the rebellious city, according to videos posted on social networks.

"We still have seven ships in the port".

The initial battle plan appeared to involve a pincer movement.

Fighting around the Yemen port city of Hodeida has resumed as a Saudi-led coalition tries to retake it from Shiite rebels known as Houthis.

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.

Yemen's exiled government said in a statement that it "has exhausted all peaceful and political means to remove the Houthi militia from the port of Hodeida", according to The Associated Press.

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Coalition warships as well as aircraft began "violent bombing" of Houthi positions in and around Hudaydah, the news agency reported, adding in a later report that ground forces had seized control of one of the city's southern suburbs.

A Yemeni anti-Houthi military official said the alliance had brought to bear a 21,000-strong force. The Fifth Fleet of the United States Navy, deployed in an area that includes the Red Sea, derived the questions regarding the offensive to the Pentagon, which did not respond to requests for comments immediately.

Yemen's government said on Tuesday that negotiations had failed to force the rebels from Hodeida, and that a grace period for UN-led peace efforts was over.

Capturing Hodeidah would give the coalition a major boost in the war.

"The port is a lifeline to much-needed supplies of food and other life-saving resources and any attack would jeopardise the ability of this country to feed itself".

The port remained open, however. The work in the port is normal.

"The offensive against Hodeidah risks triggering catastrophic consequences for all of Yemen", Russia's foreign ministry said in a statement.

"The population has already been weakened to extreme levels", he said. The Gulf initiative, national dialogue and U.N. Security Council decisions are the basis for a political settlement, it said after an emergency meeting in Cairo.

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"The most effective solution to the situation in Hodeidah, and in Yemen, is for the Houthi militias to adhere to UN Security Council resolution 2216, which calls for the unconditional Houthi withdrawal from all occupied cities", he continued. "The administration and the Saudis should take this language as yet another clear signal that Congress will not stand idly by as the US-supported coalition continues to kill and starve civilians in Yemen with impunity".

Yemeni residents in the Red Sea port city of Hodeida say the Saudi-led coalition has dropped leaflets advising them to stay away from military and security points, and to stay in their homes, amid the coalition's assault.

The coalition has blocked most ports, letting supplies into Hodeida in coordination with the UN.

"Life-saving items can not be given to those in need while fighting is ongoing", ICRC Middle East director Robert Mardini said in a statement. The UN humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, Lise Grande, has warned that the assault would leave hundreds of thousands of Yemenis vulnerable and exacerbate the humanitarian crisis in the famine- and cholera-racked country.

Yemeni officials say the battles are centered in and around the ad-Durayhimi district. The sound of heavy, sustained gunfire clearly could be heard in the background. Al-Zaabi, the UAE ambassador in Geneva, said they died in the Hodeida campaign, without elaborating.

Aid workers had similar worries.

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The new United Nations envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, tweeted that he was "extremely concerned" by the violence, calling on all parties to exercise restraint.

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He added that the UAE and the Saudi-led coalition went ahead with the campaign despite knowing that worldwide aid agencies fear it could lead to a humanitarian crisis.

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