Yemen war: Fighting rages over vital port of Hudaydah

Battle for Yemen's biggest port under way

Saudi-Led Alliance Gears up for Assault on Key Yemeni Port City

Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al-Rabeeah, who is also the General Supervisor of King Salman Center for Humanitarian Assistance and Relief Aid (KSrelief), and Dr. Reem Bint Ibrahim Al-Hashmi, UAE minister of state for worldwide cooperation affairs, co-held a press conference on Wedneday here on behalf of the Coalition for the Restoration of Legitimacy in Yemen to cast light on the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Yemen in general, and Houthi-controlled Hodeida port and province in particular.

The humanitarian assistance being sent by worldwide organizations have been looted by the Houthis in control of Hodeida port, while also preventing goods and oil derivatives from entry, causing famine, starvation and poverty inside the province, the report said.

The conflict has left almost 10,000 people dead in Yemen, the Arab world's poorest country. According to the Houthis, a pair of missiles struck a landing ship as it was conveying equipment and personnel ashore, leading to the retreat of a flotilla of coalition vessels and a search and rescue operation.

The battle for Hudaida, if the Houthis don't withdraw, also may mark the first major street-to-street urban fighting for the Saudi-led coalition, which can be deadly for both combatants and civilians alike.

The 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.

Shutting down the operations of the "main lifeline for the population in Yemen", which receives approximately 80 percent of all Yemeni imports, including the bulk of humanitarian goods, will have "huge humanitarian implications", Joao Martins, head of the Doctors without Borders (MSF) mission in Yemen, told RT.

In reality, families in Hudaydah are already starving and desperately relying on humanitarian aid.

By Wednesday night, the offensive remained on the outskirts of the rebel-held airport.

Bombardment was heavy, with one aid official reporting 30 strikes in 30 minutes.

The initial battle plan appeared to involve a pincer movement.

Saudi Arabian warplanes and warships began pounding the fortifications of the Iranian-supplied Houthi rebels this morning, to support ground operation "Golden Victory" led by Yemeni troops massed south of the port of Hodeidah, witnesses told Reuters.

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Yemen's exiled government "has exhausted all peaceful and political means to remove the Houthi militia from the port of Hodeida", it said in a statement.

A view of cranes, damaged by air strikes, at the container terminal of the Red Sea port of Hodeidah, Yemen November 30, 2017.

Emirati state news agency WAM announced that four UAE soldiers were killed on Wednesday in Yemen.

The Houthi-run Al Masirah satellite news channel claimed rebel forces hit a Saudi coalition ship near Hodeida with two missiles.

Tribal fighters loyal to the Yemeni government stand by a tank in al-Faza area near Hodeida, Yemen June 1, 2018.

The ongoing Coalition intervention in Yemen came at the request of the legitimate Government of Yemen after Houthi rebels took the Yemeni capital by force in 2014. The Saudi-led coalition entered the war in March 2015 and has received logistical support from the U.S.

The United Nations and other aid groups already had pulled their worldwide staff from Hodeida ahead of the rumored assault.

Having failed to stop the UAE from acting, the US military has helped Gulf allies develop a list of targets that should be off-limits, according to several reports citing unnamed USA officials.

Previously, global aid agencies voiced alarm over the "looming disaster,"stressing that a battle will jeopardize the delivery of the scarce humanitarian aid desperately needed by the civilian population".

Over 10,000 people have been killed in Yemen's civil war, which has displaced two million more and helped spawn a cholera epidemic.

The UN and Western nations say Iran has supplied the Houthis with weapons, from assault rifles to the ballistic missiles they have fired deep into Saudi Arabia, including at the capital, Riyadh.

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