Civilians flee bombardment as Saudi-led coalition pounds Yemen port

Fighting In Yemen Port City Threatens Aid Shipments

UN Fears Grow for Civilians in Yemen City of Hodeida

The United Nations Security Council has called for keeping open the Yemeni port of Hudaydah amid a Saudi-led assault to capture it.

The missile, fired towards Khamis Mushayt city and targeting civilian areas, was intercepted and destroyed by Saudi Royal Air Defense Forces.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said on Twitter that Yemenis "fear a siege" and "are under "immense pressure", with people scrambling for food and safe shelter".

The Saudi-led coalition backing Yemen's exiled government began the assault on the port city of Hodeida (hoh-DY'-duh) on Wednesday.

Hodeidah is on the Red Sea in western Yemen.

Yemeni pro-government forces were locked in heavy fighting with rebels that left 39 people dead yesterday, as they pressed a Saudi and UAE-backed offensive to retake the key aid hub of Hodeida. The Houthis, from a Shi'ite minority, deny being Iran's pawns and say they took power in a popular revolt and are defending Yemen from invasion by its neighbours.

It was the second day of an offensive to capture the strategic harbour which is the main entry point for food in a country teetering on the brink of starvation. He also said the members are calling for the port in Hodeidah to be kept open. Military sources said the deaths were caused by mines and snipers.

The United States rejected a request from the UAE for intelligence, mine-sweeping and airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) assets for the Hudaida operation, a UAE official said, speaking on condition of anonymity, while noting congressional opposition.

The missile was intercepted over Khamis Mushait in the kingdom's south, and no casualties were reported, the coalition said in a statement released by the official Saudi Press Agency.

A displaced man on the outskirts of Hodeidah in late 2017
A displaced man on the outskirts of Hodeidah in late 2017

Depriving the Houthis of their control of Hodeida port, at the Yemeni government's request, means that the Houthis will no longer be able to impose their will at the barrel of a gun.

However, the official said France had agreed to provide mine-sweeping support for the operation. Tens of thousands are likely to flee Hodeidah in the coming days, the ICRC said. They said the assault on the airport would start at dawn on Saturday.

The Emirati official said the request had been rejected within the last 24 hours, saying that while the U.S. did not give a reason for the rejection the official believed the request was denied because of congressional opposition over concerns about potential civilian casualties.

Paris plans to host a gathering of countries and worldwide organizations, co-presided with Riyadh, on June 27 to address the "urgent humanitarian situation" in Yemen.

For its part, the Saudi-led coalition says it had no choice but to launch the assault as the port provided millions of dollars for the Houthis through customs controls.

The battle for Hodeidah "could have a devastating impact on civilians both in the city and elsewhere in Yemen", Human Rights Watch's Whitson said.

Fighting In Yemen Port City Threatens Aid Shipments The fighting in a Yemeni port city is reportedly increasing, threatening aid shipments.

David Miliband, chief executive of the International Rescue Committee speaking on the BBC Today programme, said an attack on the port would lead to "a great danger of besiegement and long-term urban warfare".

The coalition of Arab states has battled with little success for three years to defeat the Houthis, who control the capital Sanaa, the main port at Hodeidah and most of Yemen's populated areas.

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The Prime Minister also said that it is "a shame" to hear that the trump justifies their rates as a problem of national security.

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