DUBAI, September 13, 2018 (AFP) - Yemeni forces backed by a Saudi-led coalition cut off the main road between the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah and the capital Sanaa, dealing a setback to the Houthi group who control both cities, military sources said on Thursday.
Abdulrahman Saleh Abou Zaraa, head of the brigade fighting Yemen's Houthi rebels in Hodeidah province, told AFP his forces had taken the rebels' main supply route linking the port city to the capital Sanaa, known as Kilo 16.
The Saudi-backed forces seized a second supply route around Hodeidah, known as Kilo 10, earlier on Wednesday, military sources said.
Nearly three quarters of crucial imports to impoverished Yemen pass through Hodeidah, including humanitarian aid.
A military source in the brigade fighting in Hodeidah told AFP that Wednesday's operation aimed to cut off supplies to the rebels. The government coalition did not have immediate plans to try to take the city, the source said.
Fierce clashes broke out Wednesday between the Houthis and pro-government forces on the east and south of rebel-held Hodeidah, leaving dozens of fighters dead, according to military and medical sources.
SANAA, August 10, 2018 (MENA) - The Houthi militias have detained dozens of Yemeni people in Yemen's Al Hodeidah governorate, local sources said on Friday.
The arrested were taken to prisons for supporting the Yemeni resistance, Sky News quoted the sources as saying.
Meanwhile, five Yemenis were killed and seven others injured in Houthi strikes against residential areas in a village, southern Hodeidah over the past two days.
ADEN, July 31, 2018 (MENA) - The Saudi-led Arab coalition jets Tuesday hit Houthi targets in Zubaid and al Duhaimi districts of Hodeidah governorate, northwestern Yemen.
The raids left scores of Houthi rebels dead and injured, according to Al Arabiya news channel.
A number of vehicles were also destroyed.
Earlier, the Arab coalition said that Houthi rebels were hampering navigation in Hodeidah port.
In a statement aired by Al Arabiya news channel, the coalition said the rebels' bad management of the port would cause an environmental catastrophe that could suspend aid flow to Yemen.
The coalition spokesman, Turki al Maliki, said at a recent press conference in Riyadh that the coalition would continue efforts to secure navigation in the Red Sea.
Maliki underlined that the operations in Yemen are meant to restore legitimacy, criticising the United Nations for turning a blind eye to the violations committed by the militias in Yemen.
The coalition takes all needed measures in line with the international law, he said.
DUBAI,July 1, 2018 (News Wires) - The United Arab Emirates said on Sunday it had halted its military campaign against the Iran-aligned Houthis for control of Yemen’s main port city of Hodeidah to support U.N. efforts to reach a political solution.
U.N. special envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, has been shuttling between the warring parties to avert an all-out attack on the port, a lifeline for millions of Yemenis. He said on Thursday that he hoped negotiations could restart in the next few weeks.
A coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE launched an offensive on Hodeidah on June 12 in the largest battle of the war that the United Nations fears risks triggering a famine in Yemen where an estimated 8.4 million people are on the verge of starvation.
The frontlines have been quiet in the past week.
“We welcome continuing efforts by UN Special Envoy, Martin Griffiths, to achieve an unconditional Houthi withdrawal from Hodeida city and port. We have paused our campaign to allow enough time for this option to be fully explored. We hope he will succeed,” UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said on Twitter.
U.N. efforts may face a major challenge over control of the city.
The Houthis have offered to hand over management of Hodeidah port to the United Nations as part of an overall ceasefire in the governorate. The Saudi-led coalition said Houthi fighters must quit the western coast, including Hodeidah city, but the Houthis have already said they would not withdraw.
Griffiths has not said who would hold military control of the city under U.N. management.
The United Nations hopes a breakthrough on Hodeidah could lead to a wider solution to the conflict that has killed more than 10,000 people.
The condition for a full withdrawal by the Houthis from Saudi Arabia and its allies has led to previous peace talks to collapse, and in his comments on Sunday Gargash made clear that if this was to happen again, the UAE would continue its military campaign.
“Failing these patient efforts, we believe that continued military pressure will ultimately bring the liberation of Hodeida and force the Houthis to engage seriously in negotiations.”
The Western-backed coalition intervened in Yemen in 2015 to restore the internationally recognized government in exile, but since then neither side has made much progress in the conflict.
Griffiths is expected to hold a second round of talks with ousted President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi on Monday in the southern city of Aden, temporary headquarters of the exiled government, Yemeni officials said.
The war has caused the world’s most urgent humanitarian crisis, with 22 million Yemenis dependent on aid.
The Houthis have so far not willingly yielded any territory they seized. U.N. talks on a political deal collapsed in 2016 when Hadi’s government walked out after the Houthis refused to quit Yemen’s three main cities, including Sanaa and Hodeidah.
Hodeidah port is the entry point for the bulk of Yemen’s commercial imports and critically-needed aid supplies.
The Arab states say they must recapture Hodeidah to deprive the Houthis of their main source of income and prevent them from smuggling in Iranian-made missiles, which have targeted Saudi cities. The group and Tehran deny the accusations.
ADEN, June 24, 2018 (Reuters) - Yemen’s Houthis deployed additional forces in the main port city of Hodeidah on Sunday as a Saudi-led military coalition moved closer to the city center in the largest offensive of the war, raising U.N. fears of a humanitarian catastrophe.
The alliance led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates launched its assault on the heavily defended Red Sea city on June 12 to try to weaken the Iran-aligned Houthi movement by cutting off a key supply line for the group which controls the capital Sanaa and most populated areas.
“There is a heavy deployment of armed Houthis in the city and new check points have been set up in neighborhoods where there are supporters of the Tehama brigades,” said one resident, referring to a Yemeni faction from the Red Sea coastal plain that is fighting with coalition forces.
Fierce clashes broke out after midnight near Hodeidah University, around 3 km (1.9 miles) west of the city center, on the coastal road linking the airport to the port, added the resident, who requested anonymity.
Coalition forces seized the airport on Wednesday and have been consolidating their hold in the area as U.N. efforts continued to reach a political deal that would avert an assault on the port, a lifeline for millions of Yemenis.
The United Nations fears the escalation in fighting could exacerbate what is already the world’s most urgent humanitarian crisis, with 22 million Yemenis dependent on aid and an estimated 8.4 million believed to be on the verge of starvation.
The Western-backed coalition intervened in Yemen in 2015 to restore the internationally recognised government in exile, but since then neither side has made much progress in the war, widely seen as a proxy conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
The World Food Program said the fighting could result in up to 1.1 million people being either displaced or trapped within the city and in need of emergency food assistance.
U.N. envoy Martin Griffiths has visited Sanaa and Saudi Arabia to try to negotiate a solution.
The Houthis have indicated they would be willing to hand over management of the port to the United Nations, sources told Reuters. A U.S. official said Washington was urging the Saudis and Emiratis to accept the deal.
“The coalition will achieve its goal of liberating Hodeida, city & port. Yet we will support all efforts to achieve an unconditional peaceful withdrawal of Houthi gangs,” UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said in a Twitter post on Saturday.
The Arab states say they must recapture Hodeidah to deprive the Houthis of their main source of income and prevent them from smuggling in Iranian-made missiles, which have been launched at Saudi cities. The group and Tehran deny the accusations.
The coalition has pledged a swift military operation to take over the airport and seaport without entering the city center, to minimize civilian casualties and maintain the flow of goods.
“The battle for Hodeida is reaching the point of no return,” the International Crisis Group said in a conflict alert.
“This is the final, fragile moment in which it may still be possible for UN-led negotiations to prevent a destructive fight that is likely to exacerbate dire humanitarian conditions and further delay broader negotiations to end the war.”
ADEN, June 20, 2018 (Reuters) - Fears of a humanitarian crisis in Yemen’s main port city Hodeidah grew as battles spilled into residential districts on Wednesday after Arab coalition forces seized the airport from the Iran-aligned Houthis.
Residents said coalition aircraft were bombing Houthi positions on roads leading to the airport as the group dug in against an onslaught by the Arab alliance to take the city, the Houthis’ main port and the lifeline for millions of Yemenis.
Coalition spokesman Colonel Turki al-Malki told Al Arabiya television in Brussels that the alliance was now destroying Houthi fortifications near the airport and he accused the group of placing tanks inside residential areas.
“We have been stuck in our houses for five days because we are afraid of going out due to the fighting. Our food supplies will run out within a week and there is no water,” Fatima, 56, said, adding that bottled water was very expensive.
The escalation in fighting has forced many to flee their homes and hampered humanitarian agencies, which are concerned about a potential cholera outbreak in the densely populated city as fighting cuts off water supplies.
“People are saying water has been disrupted in parts of Hodeidah already. Some areas even prior to the war were not even connected to the main water supply,” said Saleem Al Shamiri, livelihood coordinator at the Norwegian Refugee Council.
“We’ve done some initiatives...to educate people about safe water use as temperatures are rising,” he told Reuters.
He said that while many residents had fled the city, most people in Hodeidah do not have the financial means to leave.
UN officials estimate that in a worst-case scenario the fighting could cost up to 250,000 lives, especially if a cholera epidemic occurs in the widely impoverished region.
The coalition, led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, intervened in Yemen’s war in 2015 to try to roll back Houthi rebels’ lightning capture of the main population centres and reinstate the internationally recognised government.
The coalition launched its offensive on heavily defended Hodeidah a week ago and pledged a swift operation to minimise civilian casualties and avoid disrupting vital aid to millions of Yemenis via the Red Sea port.
“Hodeidah port is operating as normal and the movement of ships is normal,” Malki said. “We have humanitarian and development plans for when we liberate the city.”
The UN World Food Programme said on Tuesday it was hastening to unload three ships at the port that contain enough food for six million people for one month.
Though the coalition pledged to try to avoid battles in densely populated urban neighborhoods, the Houthis were well dug into Hodeidah as it constitutes the key supply line to territory they control, including the capital, Sanaa.
Saudi Arabia accuses the Houthis of using Hodeidah port to smuggle Iranian-made weapons, including missiles targeting Saudi cities. The group and Tehran deny the accusation.