Saudi Arabia says missile shot by Yemen rebels intercepted

18 June, 2018, 15:34 | Author: Charlene Valdez
  • Sudanese forces fighting alongside the Saudi-UAE coalition gathered near the outskirts of Hudaida

Council members held the emergency closed-door session after the Saudi-led coalition began airstrikes on Hodeida early Wednesday, after what coalition partner the United Arab Emirates said was the expiration of a deadline for Iranian-backed Houthi rebels to surrender the critical Red Sea port.

A source at the missile command of the Yemeni army and Popular Committees said the forces mounted a missile attack against gatherings of the Saudi-led coalition troops and Riyadh-backed militants on the west coast, the Arabic-language al-Masirah TV network reported.

The Iran-aligned Houthis control the capital and most of Yemen's populated areas.

The officials told Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television that troops had entered the Al Manzar area adjacent to the airport, which lies just south of Hodeidah city.

Apache attack helicopters bombed a strip of coastal territory near the city's airport, forcing many residents and civilians to flee the port city.

Their fear is that a protracted fight could force a shutdown of Hodeida's port at a time when a halt in aid risks tipping millions into starvation.

State-run Saba news agency said the aim of Hadi's first public visit to the country in more than a year was to "supervise" the military operations in Hodeida province.

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The port of Hodeida is a vital gateway to getting food and other aid to a significant number of these people.

The official said that the Trump administration denied the requests within the past 24 hours as a UAE operation to wrest control of the port from Iranian-backed Shiite rebels got underway.

In a statement Saturday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said "we stand with our United Nations partners to call on all parties to the conflict to protect the port, and allow its uninterrupted functioning". Abdullah al-Rabeeah, the head of Saudi Arabia's King Salman Aid and Relief Centre, in a press conference Wednesday night sought to allay the fears of the worldwide community.

"Any closure of the port, even for a few days, will have a dramatic impact on the humanitarian operations in the country", the U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, Lise Grande, told The Associated Press Thursday.

On Monday, the UNSC said it supported Griffiths' diplomatic efforts but did not specifically call on Saudi Arabia and the UAE to refrain from attacking the city - a key point for aid supply.

The clashes came as the UN Security Council met for urgent talks on the military operation and called for the port, held by the Houthis along with the capital Sanaa since 2014, to be "kept open".

However, the United Nations has not been able to determine when the missiles, components or related technology were transferred from Iran and if they violated U.N. restrictions, Guterres said in a biannual report on the implementation of U.N. sanctions on Iran.

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Saudi Arabia began bombing Houthi rebels in support of the Yemeni government in March 2015.

Worldwide aid agencies and the United Nations have warned the assault could shut down the vital aid route for some 70 per cent of Yemen's food, as well as the bulk of humanitarian aid and fuel supplies.

The capture of Hodeida would be the Saudi-led coalition's biggest victory in a three-year war that has claimed over 10,000 lives and displaced millions. "If they keep Hodeida and its revenues and its strategic location, the war will last a long time and (add to) the suffering of the Yemeni people".

"We are facing a small, fanatical group of hardened fighters armed by Iran", Ms Nusseibeh told a press briefing at the UN that was also attended by Saudi Arabia's UN Ambassador Abdallah Al Mouallimi, the UAE Minister of State for International Co-operation Reem Al Hashimy and the Yemeni Foreign Minister Khalid Al Yamani.

About 80 percent of humanitarian relief goods for the country are transported through the port.

The June 12 report, seen by Reuters on Thursday, is a further blow to USA efforts to hold Iran accountable over accusations it violated United Nations resolutions on Yemen and Iran by supplying weapons to the Houthis.

The coalition has blocked most ports, letting supplies into Hodeida in co-ordination with the U.N. The air campaign and fighting have disrupted other supply lines, causing an economic crisis that makes food too expensive for many to afford.

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