Government forces capture town south of Hodeida

Battle for key Yemen port leaves dozens dead

Government forces capture town south of Hodeida

The Pentagon would not say Thursday whether it had rejected the request for support but called Hodeidah "critical to the delivery of humanitarian assistance to relieve the suffering of the Yemeni people".

But in Yemen's protracted civil war, which has killed approximately 10,000 people and led to tens of thousands more deaths from sickness and starvation, worldwide aid agencies are wary of predictions by the Saudis and the Emiratis that they could snatch a quick victory in Hodeida's complex urban environment.

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 Arab states have been fighting since 2015 to unseat them, restore an exiled Saudi-backed government and halt what they see as Iranian expansionism. "This comes from this sea port".

He claimed that rebel forces hit a UAE warship near Hodeida with two missiles.

The Houthis are backed by Iran, and its members follow the Shia Islamic branch of Zaidism.

"About 70 percent of Yemen's aid and commercial imports enter through Hodeida and the nearby Saleef port, providing food, fuel, and medicine that the population needs for survival", Human Rights Watch said.

Pro-Houthi policemen control vehicles at a checkpoint on a street in the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah, Yemen June 14, 2018.

Dawad also said the southern gate of Hodeida city was captured by pro-coalition forces.

But while the request for USA military assistance was denied, the Emirati official said the Trump administration has publicly and privately said it supports the operation, as long as the coalition coordinates with the United Nations, takes efforts to protect civilians and continues to deliver humanitarian aid.

Coalition forces were just 2 km from the airport, the Emirati ambassador to the United Nations, Obeid Salem Al Zaabi, told reporters in Geneva.

Mr Hadi fled the country that year after the Houthis tried to oust him from power, in part because he had neither a natural constituency in the deeply divided country nor loyalist fighters to protect him.

The United States has turned down three requests within the past 24 hours from the UAE to provide more support, including minesweepers.

Yemen's president has returned to his country after apparently patching up relations with the United Arab Emirates, which along with Saudi Arabia is leading an assault on Yemen's rebel-held port city of Hodeida.

Worldwide aid agencies and the United Nations have warned the assault could shut down the vital aid route for some 70 per cent of Yemen's food, as well as the bulk of humanitarian aid and fuel supplies.

The ambassador's comments contradict the conclusions of a United Nations panel of experts that said it was unlikely the Houthis were using the port for smuggling arms.

"The liberation of Hodeidah is the cornerstone of overthrowing the financial empire built by Houthis", said Ibrahim, another Sanaa citizen. "To the contrary, we have allowed them safe passage to the north of the city if they want to drop their arms and leave".

The Security Council discussed the Yemen situation in closed session on Thursday.

United Nations special envoy Martin Griffiths, meanwhile arrived in Sanaa in an effort to broker a cease-fire.

Sweden is urging the U.N. Security Council to call for "an immediate freeze" in the attack on Yemen's port of Hodeida by Saudi-led coalition forces.

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