Published: Thu, November 15, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Saudi-led airstrike kills 7 in contested Yemen port city

Saudi-led airstrike kills 7 in contested Yemen port city

An army commander loyal to the Saudi-backed government said on condition of anonymity that "the fighting stopped for hours only just to rearrange the soldiers for a new offensive to seize the rest of Hodeidah from the Houthis".

The Saudi-led coalition now "appears determined to take Hodeidah, which in my opinion will still not allow the real start of a political solution", Mr Guterres said.

During the past few days, the government forces made significant progress in Hodeidah despite a large number of landmines and booby-trapped buildings, in addition to professional Houthi snipers who took positions on buildings inside residential neighborhoods, according to local military sources.

Monday's strikes, in which port staff said four rebels were killed and four wounded, was the first to hit the docks in 12 days of intensified bombardment and ground fighting in the Red Sea coastal city of some 600,000 people, many of whom have fled or now fear a siege.

On Tuesday, a Houthi spokesman had told a news conference broadcast on the rebels' Al-Masirah TV that they were ready for "war in the streets" of Hodeida.

Three military officials reached by telephone told AFP the pro-government forces had been "ordered" to halt their offensive against Huthi rebels in the Red Sea city until further notice, but operations would resume if they came under attack.

The workers said the Huthis had planted explosives near two of the port's gates, one that leads to Jizan Road, a main street in the city's north, and the other near the Alsanabel flour mill company.

The port s deputy director, Yahya Sharafeddine, said the main entrance to the docks had been "the target of air raids" but was fully functioning.

The Huthis media office said air strikes had killed nine civilians in Jarahi, west of Hodeida city.

Citing data collected by the Civilian Impact Monitoring Project - linked to the United Nations global protection clusters - OCHA said Tuesday 34 people were killed among 92 civilian casualties in the first week of November in Hodeida province.

"The Saudi-led Coalition have agreed to the evacuation of wounded Houthis from Yemen, one of the key stumbling blocks to the UN Geneva talks in September".

The United States, Britain and France this week called for the cessation of hostilities in Yemen and the resumption of negotiations to end the war.

Hodeida port is under a near-total blockade by Saudi Arabia and its allies, who accuse Iran of smuggling arms to the Huthis.

Gulf Arab states have been battling since 2015 to restore a government-driven out by the Houthis, Shi'ite Muslim fighters that Yemen's neighbours view as agents of Iran.

Wounded Houthi rebels have been granted a request by the Saudi-led coalition to evacuate the war-torn country, following a visit to the region by British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, his office confirmed on Tuesday.

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