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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.

U.N. ROLE

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.”

DUBAI, June 14, 2018 (News Wires) -- With land, sea and air support by the UAE Armed Forces, the Arab Coalition and Yemeni Resistance forces began on Wednesday a decisive military operation to liberate Hodeidah city and its strategic port from the grip of the Iranian-backed Al Houthi militias, who rejected peaceful solutions.

The forces managed to liberate new strategic areas in Al Duraihimi district and areas adjacent to Hodeidah airport after penetrating the Al Houthi front lines. Following the collapse of their defences, the Al Houthi fighters abandoned their positions, while their commanders fled the areas after the defeat.

Colonel Sadiq Al Duwaid, spokesman for the Yemeni National Resistance, said the joint resistance forces made a huge advance towards Al Hodeidah, closing to 8 kilometres within the city’s airport and controlling the districts of Al Nekhailah and Al Taif, south of Hodeidah, amid major collapse in the Houthi militias ranks. The Arab Coalition’s fighter jets pounded the Houthis reinforcements, while the resistance forces killed and captured dozens of Houthi fighters.

“The Yemeni resistance forces foiled attempts by the Houthis to infiltrate Al Madman area in Tahtia towards Al Faza in what appears to be a desperate move to raise morale of their defeated fighters,” he added.

The assault marks the first time the Arab states have tried to capture such a heavily-defended major Red Sea port city since they joined the war three years ago against the militants, who control the capital Sana’a and most of the populated areas.

RIYADH, June 13, 2018 (News Wires) -- Troops backed by a Saudi-led coalition on Wednesday launched an assault on Yemen's main port city of Hodeidah, in the biggest battle of a three-year war between an alliance of Arab states and the Iran-aligned Houthis.

Coalition warplanes and warships were carrying out strikes on Houthi fortifications to support ground operations by Yemeni troops massed south of the Red Sea port, the internationally recognised Yemeni government in exile said in a statement.

The "Golden Victory" operation began after the passing of a deadline set by the United Arab Emirates for the Houthis, who hold the capital Sanaa, to quit the sole port under their control.

Hodeidah is the lifeline for the majority of Yemen's population, who live in Houthi territory.

Houthi leader Mohammed Ali Al Houthi, who has threatened attacks on oil tankers along the strategic Red Sea shipping lane, warned the Western-backed alliance not to attack the port and said on Twitter his forces had targeted a coalition barge.

The assault is the first time since the Western-backed coalition of mostly Gulf states joined the war in 2015 that they have attempted to capture such a well-defended major city, with the aim of boxing in the Houthis in Sanaa and cutting their supply lines to force them to the negotiating table.

Preparations in full swing

The Joint Yemeni Resistance Forces increased their readiness to the maximum in preparation for the liberation battle of Al Hodeidah city from the Houthi militias.

A source from the Yemeni National Resistance said that a large number of forces from Brigades AlAmalaqah and the Tihama Resistance Forces, armed with modern weapons and in high morale, have arrived at the outskirts of Al Hodeidah city to continue their build-up in the front lines in preparation for the battle of rolling back the Houthi militias and putting and end to the coup plot in Yemen.

He also added, "the Joint Yemeni Resistance Forces deployed large reinforcements in Al Hodeidah front and took positions in the outskirts of the city in preparation for the big liberation battle".

Our military tactics focus on saving the lives of the civilian people and the infrastructures to ensure the liberation of the city without any civilian causalities, he added.

The member countries of the Saudi-led Arab Coalition in Yemen are aiming to improve the humanitarian conditions across the areas to be liberated in Al Hodeidah city, to be on par with the other areas that have been liberated from the grip of the Houthis in Yemen's Red Sea

Coast and to help the Yemeni people to overcome the dire conditions caused by the terrorist practices of the elements of the militias.

He also pointed out that the Joint Yemeni Resistance Forces are continuing the large scale combing operations in the farms of Al-Jah city to thwart any infiltration attempt by the Iranian-back Houthi militias to boost the declining morale within their ranks.

"Our forces discovered large quantities of weapons cache, ammunitions and RPG shells that belong to the militants," added the sources.

DUBAI, June 5, 2018, (News Wires) -- Backed by the UAE Armed Forces, the fighter jets and artillery of the Saudi -led Arab Coalition in Yemen have targeted the Houthi militias' locations and assemblies in the Al Hussainya, Zubaid, Tahita, and parts of Hayes district, which resulted in the destruction of their military reinforcements and equipment amid large collapse and the mass flee of their elements from the battlefronts to nearby mountains.

Tens of members of the Iran-backed Houthi militia were killed in air raids carried out by the Arab Coalition fighter jets and in clashes with the Joint Yemeni Resistance Forces in the Red Sea Coast, bringing to more than 140 the death toll of the militiamen in the past two days.

The qualitative and devastating air strikes have confused the militias' ranks and weakened their military capabilities amid the accelerated field progress of Yemeni Resistance forces towards Hodeidah Airport and its strategic port.

During the past two days, the joint Yemeni Resistance Forces have captured tens of elements of the Houthi militias and destroyed their defenses and fortifications in the Red Sea Coast.

The latest capturing of members of the Houthi militia followed the large field advance of the joint Yemeni Resistance forces in Al Duraihami and Al Hussainynia districts where the Houthis sent their elements to defend their collapsing battlefronts.

The militias are retreating on various battlefronts as a result of the rapid advance of pro-government forces towards Hodeidah to clear it from the coup perpetrators and abort their schemes in Yemen.

SANA'A June 2, 2018 (News Wires) — Heavy fighting in Yemen between pro-government forces and Iran-backed Shi'ite rebels killed at least 28 people on both sides, security and medical officials said Saturday.

Government forces, backed by Saudi-led coalition airstrikes, have been advancing along the western coast in recent weeks as they battle the rebels, known as Houthis.

The rebels killed 18 pro-government forces and wounded 30 in an attack Friday on the government-held town of el-Faza that last eight hours, the officials said.

Government forces eventually repelled the attack, killing at least 10 rebel fighters, the officials said. Battles raged for the fourth day in a row elsewhere along the western coast, they said. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.

Meanwhile, medics and military sources said on Saturday that the battle for a major rebel-controlled port in Yemen has left more than 100 soldiers and insurgents dead in less than a week.

Yemeni forces are fighting to close in on the Red Sea port of Hodeida, the main conduit for humanitarian supplies into a country where 22 million people are in dire need of food aid.

Medics in the southern Aden governorate, where the Yemeni government is based, said they had received the bodies of 52 people, including 20 soldiers, between Friday and Saturday, bringing the toll to at least 110 killed in clashes since Wednesday.

The remainder appeared to be rebels, the medics said.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a source in the pro-government military coalition said on Saturday the Huthi rebels had ambushed a military convoy in the coastal district of al-Durayhmi in Hodeida governorate.

Loyalist fighters, backed by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, last week announced they had launched an operation to enter Hodeida city and seize the rebel-held port.

Hodeida lies 230 kilometres from the capital Sanaa, which the Iran-backed Huthis seized in 2014, prompting a Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen the following year.

The campaign, which continues to this day, aims to restore power to the internationally recognised government of exiled President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.

The Saudi-led coalition accuses the rebels of using Hodeida as a launchpad for attacks on shipping in the Red Sea and for smuggling in rockets.

The insurgents have in recent months ramped up missile attacks against neighbouring Saudi Arabia.

Nearly 10,000 people have been killed since the coalition launched its military campaign in Yemen in March 2015.

More than 2,200 others have died from cholera and millions are on the verge of famine in what the United Nations says is the world's gravest humanitarian crisis.

The UN warned last week that any operation aimed at seizing Hodeida would disrupt the entry of aid shipments to Yemen, 70 percent of which flow through the rebel-held port.

ADEN, May 26, 2018 (News Wires) - In his first interview following his appointment as Yemen’s foreign minister, Khalid Hussein al-Yamani told Al Arabiya that the Houthi militias are in a difficult position, have suffered major losses and have accepted UN-backed proposals of a political resolution to the conflict.

Yamani revealed that the United Nations received messages from the Houthis stating that they were ready for the peace process, their withdrawal from cities they have occupied and handing over their weapons to the state.

Meanwhile, the United Nations condemned the increasing restrictions on the work of relief organizations and humanitarian agencies, the detention and intimidation of its staff in the northern areas under Houthi control in Yemen.

The UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock said: “Humanitarian staff are being detained and intimidated and visas are being delayed and denied. Programmes and missions are being interfered in ways which contradict humanitarian principles.”

The UN official said that one quarter of Yemen’s children are out of schools, and not only deprived of education but also at risk of recruitment by armed groups and exploitation as the statement puts it.

He said that public employees in the health and education sectors in the northern region under the control of Houthi militias have not been paid their salaries till now.

Expressing his concerns regarding the humanitarian situation in Yemen, Lowcock said that more than 22 million Yemenis are in need for humanitarian assistance or protection, of whom around 8.4 milion are at risk of starvation.

“If conditions do not improve, a further 10 million people will fall into this category by the end of the year,” cautioned Lowcock.

He welcomed the decision of by all parties to open a medical air bridge from Sana'a to Saudi Arabia and Egypt to transport patients with conditions that cannot be treated in Yemen to facilities where they can receive the help they need

Lowcock urged all parties to engage meaningfully with the UN, without preconditions, to achieve a lasting, negotiated settlement towards sustainable peace.

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