Yemeni forces again wrest Hudaydah airport from Houthis rebels

23 June, 2018, 13:26 | Author: Charlene Valdez
  • Al Hudaydah is currently controlled by Houthi rebels

The Gulf Arab states accuse their regional arch rival Iran of smuggling arms to the rebels through the port, a charge Tehran denies. There was no immediate comment from the Houthis.

Officials also displayed a series of drones they said showed a growing sophistication by the insurgents, starting first with plastic foam models that could be built by hobby kit to one captured in April that closely resembled an Iranian-made drone.

Wresting the airport from the Houthis would be a significant step to a takeover of Hodeidah by coalition-backed forces.

Stephane Dujarric, the spokesman for the United Nations secretary-general, said about 5,200 families or about 26,000 people have left the region to seek safety adding that "the number is expected to increase as hostilities continue".

Saudi air defences on Tuesday intercepted a ballistic missile fired from rebel-held territory in neighbouring Yemen, state media reported, as a Riyadh-led military coalition intensifies an offensive to capture a strategic port.

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Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other allies intervened in Yemen in March 2015 to push back the rebels and restore the internationally recognised government to power after the Houthis ousted it from swathes of the country including the capital Sanaa.

Yahia Sharaf Eddin said four of the dead were women and that the strike took place in the district of al-Gharasi.

Earlier in the day, witnesses said another airstrike targeted a tractor driver and another man in eastern Hodeida who were digging trenches for the Houthi fighters.

"Unsurprisingly, there are advanced military components in the Houthi militias' hands", said Talal Al-Teneiji, an official at the UAE Foreign Ministry. He briefed the U.N. Security Council on Monday by video from Sanaa on his proposals to restart political negotiations to end the three-year conflict.

The battle for Hodeida has sparked fears of a new escalation of the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, which is already teetering on the brink of starvation.

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Their campaign has been criticized by aid groups, which fear a protracted fight could force a shutdown of the port and potentially tip millions into starvation.

Hodeidah's port is the conduit through which as much as 80 percent of Yemen's food, medical and commercial supplies enters the country. "We have humanitarian and development plans for when we liberate the city".

The Houthis, meanwhile, have laid land mines, killing and wounding civilians, targeted religious minorities and imprisoned opponents.

For now, he said he hoped the campaign would aid United Nations special envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths' efforts to get a cease-fire and have the Houthis leave Hodeida.

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