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Saudi-led coalition forces begin assault on Yemen aid port

Saudi-led coalition forces begin assault on Yemen aid port”

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 added that Saudi-led helicopters rushed to save the forces aboard the vessel, which is now burning near Yemen's coastline.

It cited American military officials as saying that the USA is helping the UAE develop a list of targets meant to be off limits for airstrikes on Hudaydah, with an apparent aim to minimize civilian casualties. The sound of heavy, sustained gunfire clearly could be heard in the background.

UAE-backed Yemeni forces - drawn from southern separatists, local units from the Red Sea coastal plain and a battalion led by a nephew of late former president Ali Abdullah Saleh - are fighting alongside Emirati and Sudanese troops.

The news came Wednesday night after USA military officials said that the United States is helping the Saudi-led coalition choose targets that will minimize civilian casualties.

Before the war, over 70 percent of Yemen's food and fuel imports came through Hodeida, accounting for over 40 percent of the nation's customs income.

"These are the last and final hours to get unconditional guarantees that the Houthis will leave the port", UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash told Reuters, but declined to discuss military operations. The United Nations and global aid organizations pulled staff out of the city and surrounding area before the deadline.

Hodeidah, Yemen's biggest port and the only port controlled by the Houthis, serves as the lifeline for the majority of Yemen's population, which lives in Houthi-ruled territory.

The UN and International Committee of the Red Cross said on Wednesday that all parties in Yemen's war must protect civilians.

More than 10,000 people have been killed in Yemen's civil war, which has displaced 2 million more and helped spawn a cholera epidemic.

The Saudi-led coalition has been criticised for its air strikes which have killed civilians.

The U.N.'s humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, Lise Grande, warned that a prolonged siege of the port could lead to the deaths of up to a quarter-million Yemenis due to starvation and disease. A Saudi-led airstrike in 2015 destroyed cranes at Hodeida.

The UN said 600,000 people live in and around Hodeidah, and "as many as 250,000 people may lose everything - even their lives" in an assault.

"We have had more than 30 airstrikes within 30 minutes this morning around the city".

United Nations chief Antonio Guterres had said that Mr Griffiths was in "intense negotiations" in an attempt to avoid a military confrontation.

But Riyadh and Abu Dhabi maintain that the port is being used to smuggle weapons.

The Trump Administration, which provides military support to the coalition, had asked the Emirates to hold off on beginning an operation until after United Nations envoy Martin Griffiths presented a new plan for jump-starting peace talks.

Grande on Monday said while the United Nations had relocated worldwide staff from the city, numerous local staff had chosen to stay to try to continue United Nations programs.

"It's providing any intel, or anything we can give to show no-fire areas where there are civilians, where there are mosques, hospitals, that sort of thing", Mattis said.



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