Yemeni forces say they seized Hodeida airport runway

Leroy Wright
June 23, 2018

After almost a month of sporadic clashes between Houthi forces and the coalition, coupled with Hadi's militia, in the volatile province of Hudaydah, the latter two launched a major offensive on June 13 to take the Houthi-held Hudaydah, a densely-populated city and the war-torn country's most vital port, which is the entry point for 70 percent of the impoverished country's imports.

In Geneva, UN human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein voiced concern that the Arab offensive could cause "enormous civilian casualties and have a disastrous impact on life-saving aid to millions of people which comes through the port".

The Yemen conflict has killed almost 10,000 people, majority civilians, since 2015.

The government and its Gulf partners, including the United Arab Emirates, began their assault on the port city of 400,000 people last week.

The Amaleqa brigades, a fighting force backed by the coalition that includes the UAE, said it seized areas on the west and east sides of the airport.

Following the meeting, Russian Deputy Ambassador Dmitry Polyansky said council members renewed their call for the port at Hodeida, the entry point for vital aid deliveries and commercial goods, to remain open.

Aid groups fear a protracted fight could force a shutdown of the port and potentially tip millions into starvation. "We have humanitarian and development plans for when we liberate the city".

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The ambassador said that the Houthi militias have exploited the Hodeida port to prolong the war and the suffering of the Yemeni people. A loss or drawn-out clashes for the Saudi-led coalition would deal another blow to Riyadh's efforts to win the proxy war with regional rival Iran.

United Nations envoy Martin Griffiths held four days of talks in the rebel-held capital Sanaa in a bid to avert an all-out battle for the city but flew out on Tuesday without announcing any breakthrough.

Capturing Hodeidah would give the coalition of mostly Gulf states a victory in the battle for the city.

Yemeni officials said Saudi-led coalition warplanes have been hitting parts of the airport including the main compound, where the rebels are holed up.

Iran long has denied arming the rebels, known as Houthis, despite reports by the United Nations, Western countries and outside groups linking them to the rebels' arsenal.

Emirati forces are leading ground forces mixed with their own troops, irregular militiamen and soldiers backing Yemen's exiled government.

On the military operations on the border strip adjacent to the southern border of Saudi Arabia, Maliki pointed out that the coalition forces secured many sites and large areas on this border, and completely cleared them of the failed attempts by the Houthis to infiltrate the borders of Saudi Arabia.

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