Saudi-led forces begin assault on Yemen port city of Hodeida

Remigio Civitarese
Giugno 13, 2018

The assault is the first time since the Western-backed coalition of mostly Gulf states joined the war in 2015 that they have attempted to capture such a well-defended major city, with the aim of boxing in the Houthis in Sanaa and cutting their supply lines to force them to the negotiating table.

Before dawn on Wednesday, convoys of vehicles appeared to be heading toward the rebel-held city, according to videos posted on social media.

Saudi-owned satellite news channels later announced the battle had begun, citing military sources.

Yemen's biggest port, Hodeidah is the lifeline for the majority of Yemen's population, which lives in Houthi territory.

Yemen's exiled government "has exhausted all peaceful and political means to remove the Houthi militia from the port of Hodeidah", it said in a statement. "Liberation of the port of Hodeidah is a milestone in our struggle to regain Yemen from the militias".

UAE Junior Foreign Minister Anwar Gargash told the BBC that the coalition had run out of patience with diplomatic efforts after a previous 48-hour deadline expired.

More than 10,000 people have been killed in Yemen's civil war, which has displaced 2 million more and helped spawn a cholera epidemic.

Forces loyal to Yemen's exiled government and irregular fighters led by Emirati troops had neared Hodeida in recent days. The Saudi-led coalition has been criticized for its airstrikes killing civilians.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE), part of the Saudi-led coalition that supports the Yemeni government, had earlier given rebels a final ultimatum to withdraw or face imminent attack.

United Nations secretary general Antonio Guterres had said that United Nations envoy Martin Griffiths was in "intense negotiations" in an attempt to avoid a military confrontation.

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