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As Saudi-Led Coalition Bombards Key Port, Yemenis Rush to Hodeida’s Defense

As Saudi-Led Coalition Bombards Key Port, Yemenis Rush to Hodeida’s Defense

As Saudi-Led Coalition Bombards Key Port, Yemenis Rush to Hodeida’s Defense
June 15
16:33 2018

HODEIDA, YEMEN — On Wednesday, the Saudi-led Coalition launched its attack on the Red Sea port city of Hodeida in western Yemen, despite the warnings by the UN and international rights groups that the move would have catastrophic humanitarian repercussions.

The Houthis, targeted in the attack along with countless civilians in Hodeida, have pledged a firm response to the offensive. Residents of Hodeida are helping the Houthis against the invasion, and Yemenis from other parts of the small nation have rushed to the port city to assist the Houthis and Hodeida`s residents.

The residents of Hodeida have been unable seek shelter due to of the volley of airstrikes and artillery that targets anything that moves. More than 25,000 people are at immediate risk — in what is a deepening humanitarian catastrophe, already the worst in the world.

With the Saudi-led Coalition bombing the port, which is a key entry point for United Nations aid, markets and fuel stations across Hodeida swelled with huge crowds of Yemenis trying to buy food and fuel before the situation becomes even worse.

The current clashes are concentrated south of the Hodeida airport, but there are intense airstrikes over the entire province, especially against the port itself, which serves as a lifeline for aid delivery to the war-stricken country. In conjunction with this escalation, U.S.-Saudi-led Coalition forces have attacked the Directorate of Dremi, southern Hodeida, with hundreds of military armored vehicles, foreign mercenaries, and air cover for the operation.

 

UAE’s deadline and UN concern

The United Arab Emirates (UAE), a key member of the Saudi-led coalition waging the war on Yemen, had set a Tuesday deadline for the Yemeni fighters to pull out of Hodeida.

“These are the last and final hours to get unconditional guarantees that the Houthis will leave the port,” UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash told Reuters on Tuesday.

Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, a high-ranking leader in the Houthi movement, in a statement to MintPress News, held the U.S. responsible for the attack against Hodeida, warning that such adventurism would result in failure.

On Saturday, the UAE had given the UN and foreign NGOs three days to leave Hodeida before it mounted an attack.

The United Nations has expressed deep concern over the assault: “I am extremely concerned about military escalation in #Hodeida & their humanitarian & political impact,” the UN special envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, wrote in a tweet on Wednesday.

Goods, destroyed in a Saudi-coalition airstrike, sit in a damaged warehouse in Hodeida, Yemen. Kristine Beckerle | Human Rights Watch

Goods, destroyed in a Saudi-coalition airstrike, sit in a damaged warehouse in Hodeida, Yemen. Kristine Beckerle | Human Rights Watch

Jolien Veldwijk, acting country director for the charity CARE International, described the attack as “catastrophic, hopeless and devastating” — worsening hunger as food will become harder to find and more expensive: “Kids are most vulnerable so they will die first … Parents will have to make a decision of either feeding their children or treating them [medically].”

Earlier, the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) had withdrawn their staff members from the key Yemeni port. The French aid group Doctors Without Borders, known as MSF, has also suspended its operations there.

 

Yemeni military responses

In retaliation for the attack, the Naval Force of the Yemeni Army, loyal to the Houthis, targeted a Coalition battleship on the west coast, Wednesday morning, during an attempt to advance towards Hodeida by sea. “That was during a foiled sea landing of Saudi and Emirati forces near the port of Hodeida,” a spokesman for the Army told MintPress. “Two missiles targeted the hostile battleship off the Hodeida coast. Smoke rose from the targeted battleship after it was hit directly, which prompted other battleships of aggression to retreat away from the coast of Hodeida.”  A military source told MintPress.” that the targeted battleship was loaded with forces and military equipment for a planned landing operation on the coast of Hodeida.

The UAE acknowledged that four of its soldiers were killed in the Battle of the West Coast on Wednesday, among them a first nautical lieutenant named “ Khalifa Saif Saeed Al-Khatiri.

“We will not remain indifferent to the most serious foreign attack that threatens millions of our oppressed Yemeni people,” the Yemeni Navy said in a statement following the attack on the vessel, adding, “the US-Saudi-led Coalition has opened the battle of Hodeida, raising the level of danger in the Red Sea, and has to bear the consequences of what it did.”

Yemen’s Naval Forces have targeted many coalition warships and naval units — including a Saudi frigate and a warship belonging to the invading UAE forces that were targeted in 2016 and 2017.

On January 30, 2017, Yemeni army forces fired a guided missile at Saudi Arabia’s al-Madinah battleship in waters near the city of Hodeida, and on June 25, another Saudi war boat was hit and destroyed by Yemeni forces off the coast of Mukha port city in Ta’izz Province.

Earlier, on October 1, 2016, Yemeni naval forces targeted an Emirati military vessel with a guided missile in waters near the port city of Mukha, situated 346 kilometers south of the capital Sana’a.

On October 10, 2015, the Houthi army forces destroyed a Saudi warship in a missile attack off the southwestern coast of Yemen, in the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, which connects the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden.

The Naval Force command reiterated that there was no reason for civilian ships to be worried as long as they followed international maritime law, calling on them to sail 20 nautical miles away from the coalition’s warships as a guarantee for their safety.

Top Photo | A Saudi-coalition soldier unslings his machine gun on the outskirts of Sanaa, Yemen, Feb. 2, 2018. Jon Gambrell | AP

Ahmed AbdulKareem is a Yemeni journalist. He covers the war in Yemen for MintPress News as well as local Yemeni media.

The post As Saudi-Led Coalition Bombards Key Port, Yemenis Rush to Hodeida’s Defense appeared first on MintPress News.

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