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In Hodeida – A Truce is Called but Saudi Coalition Attacks Continue

In Hodeida – A Truce is Called but Saudi Coalition Attacks Continue

In Hodeida – A Truce is Called but Saudi Coalition Attacks Continue
November 19
19:51 2018

HODEIDA, YEMEN — Inside Hodeida, the scene is reminiscent of a maximum-security prison as Saudi-led coalition watchtowers colored in the somber gray of an overcast sky are lit by an array of lanterns amid the city’s rolling blackouts. At night, Hodeida becomes a city of ghosts and at sunrise survivors rise from the rubble of their homes, offices, and stores with a satisfied half-smile of survival.

Saudi Arabia and its coalition allies have failed in their offensive against Yemen’s strategic port city. The offensive, which began in earnest earlier this year, hit an unexpected wall of resistance put up by the Yemeni Army, supported by local volunteer fighters as well as Ansar Allah (Houthis).

The Saudi-led coalition, unable to overcome local defenses, announced a temporary halt to its offensive this week after hitting yet another battlefield stalemate. The announcement is being marketed by the coalition as an opportunity for much-needed humanitarian aid to reach the city’s besieged residents.

On the ground, the fierce battles in Hodeida’s southern and eastern outskirts have all but ceased, with the exception of intermittent clashes. A relative calm has taken hold but the thundering sound of warplanes flying overhead still fills the air.

Anwar Gargash, the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) minister of foreign affairs, said his country welcomed the “early convening of UN-led talks in Sweden” and urged warring factions to take advantage of diplomatic efforts. “We are working closely with the UN on expanding humanitarian assistance for all areas of Yemen,” he added. The UAE is a core player in the Saudi coalition’s war on Yemen and has been responsible for contributing to Yemen’s humanitarian crisis.

For their part, the Houthis are embracing the truce with careful reserve, fearing it may be yet another coalition bid to buy time and call in reinforcements for a fresh push. In a statement following the coalition’s declaration of pause in the fighting, Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdulsalam said:

In every round of aggression against Yemen, the escalation begins and then dies down, mostly without declaring a truce. The aggressive coalition is trying to pretend that it has halted its attacks on Hodeida in response to global pressure or to allow the dispatch of humanitarian aid, but that’s a big lie.”

UAE troop movements Hodeida

This composite image of screenshots from video taken over the weekend shows heavy equipment and Sudanese mercenaries being re-positioned around Hodeida. Photo | ISWNews

Meanwhile, the coalition and its allies are mobilizing and arranging their forces in preparation for what appears to be a new escalation. A military official representing coalition forces told MintPress that they would be launching major operations in Hodeida in the coming days. Neither the Houthis nor the myriad of local Hodeida residents who have taken up arms to support them are showing any signs of ceding control of Yemen’s most strategic port, making the prospects of success for the coalition bleak.

 

Truce called but Saudi attacks continue

Despite the coalition’s public proclamation of a truce, peace has yet to take hold in many parts of Hodeida. Like many of the preceding truces in the war on Yemen, this one has been marred by civilian casualties. In fact, more than 20 civilians were killed in coalition attacks over the weekend across Yemen, including many women and children.

In the latest attack, four sisters from the Majid al-Wahidi family were killed after their home in the al-Salkhana district of Hodeida was struck on Sunday. Nine civilians were also killed when coalition aircraft targeted vehicles on the al Jarah highway in Hodeida on Friday. Rescue efforts following the attacks were complicated by the Saudi coalition’s use of double-tap strikes. A spokesman for the Yemeni Ministry of Health, D.Yussef al Hadri, said that rescuers and ambulances had been targeted using double-airstrikes.

“The flames have not disappeared. It’s the truth,” said 15-year-old Ebrahim, a street vendor in a crowded market in Hodeida’s al Mohwat. “The airstrikes continue in the districts to this moment.” Ebrahim was one of three people who survived a Saudi raid in Yemen’s lush region of al- Salkhana during a sweep of the Hali directorate.

 

Saudi success short-lived

Two weeks since the most recent clashes in Yemen’s strategic port city of Hodeida began, the Yemeni Army, supported by local volunteer fighters as well as Ansar Allah (Houthi), has successfully pushed back a large-scale offensive by one of the Middle East’s most well-equipped armies, inflicting heavy losses on the Saudi coalition and its mercenary fighters.

Footage provided to MintPress by Yemen’s War Media outlet shows burned-out equipment and the dead bodies all over the battlefields.

Hodeida’s resistance has been able to utilize their intimate knowledge of the city to box Saudi forces and their mercenaries into minefields in the city’s southern and eastern outskirts. The resistance has also been able to funnel coalition forces into specific areas of Hodeida’s crowded districts and then close in behind them, rendering coalition forces effectively cut off from their supply lines.

In many cases, coalition forces and their mercenary allies are then targeted with ballistic missiles, artillery and rocket-propelled grenades. I witnessed hundreds of mercenary fighters surrendering to local volunteer fighters and Houthi forces. Other coalition-backed mercenaries were killed. In Hodeida’s rural outskirts, the story has been similar.

Hodeida Yemen Saudi mercenaries

This video obtained by MPN shows Saudi mercenaries taking heavy losses after walking through a minefield in Hodeida, Yemen.

On the road to the village of al Manther, which lies to the west of Bei al-Fageih city and where the unforgiving ways of the desert hold sway, the bodies of Saudi coalition fighters killed in violent clashes over the past few days are scattered everywhere. According to the identification cards recovered from their bodies, most of them were mercenaries from across Yemen and Sudan. In the village’s main roundabout, at least 20 bodies litter the streets in various states of decay.

Despite a huge advantage in terms of personnel and weaponry, coalition forces have been unable to secure the rural districts surrounding Hodeida. Local volunteer fighters, supported by the Houthis and local tribes, are indigenous to the land and know its reefs, plains, and valleys well.

In the first days of its attack, the coalition was able to break Houthi defenses and enter the southern and western outskirts of the city, especially in the areas near Hodeida`s University, the international airport, the strategic Kilo 16 district, and towards Alsaleh`s buildings. But that success — which relied on a scorched-earth, no-limits military campaign — seems to have been short-lived.

Top Photo | A man stands among the rubble of the Alsonidar Group’s water pump and pipe factory after it was hit by Saudi airstrikes in Sanaa, Yemen, Sept. 22, 2016. Hani Mohammed | AP

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

The post In Hodeida – A Truce is Called but Saudi Coalition Attacks Continue appeared first on MintPress News.

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