Dozens dead in Hodeida after Yemen peace talks collapse

Dozens dead in Hodeida after Yemen peace talks collapse
Peace talks between the Saudi-backed government and Iran-backed Houthi rebels collapsed on Saturday, sparking a new round of fighting in the port city.
2 min read
09 September, 2018
Pro-government fighters in southwest Yemen [Getty]
At least 84 people have died around Yemen's Red Sea port city of Hodeida since UN-brokered peace talks collapsed, hospital sources said Sunday.

Among the casualties are 73 insurgents and 11 soldiers, who died after talks were abandoned on Saturday. 

Dozens more Houthi rebels and at least 17 soldiers have also been wounded.

The Saudi-led coalition, which backs the internationally-recognised government of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, has been pushing to close in on the vital port city of Hodeida - through which some 70 percent of Yemen's imports flow.

The UN has previously warned of a fresh humanitarian disaster due to fighting around the port city. 

The coalition on Sunday was positioned to attempt to seize the main road linking Sanaa, the rebel-held capital, to the port city, a military official told AFP.

The road is a key supply route for the Houthis.

In July, the coalition announced a temporary ceasefire in Hodeida to give a chance to UN-brokered peace talks.

But UN attempts to hold peace talks between the Saudi-backed government and the Iran-backed Houthis were abandoned on Saturday, sparking fears of an escalation in the conflict.

The rebels refused to leave Yemen for Geneva, saying the UN had not met their demands - including a plane to transport their wounded to nearby Oman and a guarantee their delegation would be allowed to return to Sanaa.

The Houthis have hinted they fear a repeat of 2016, when 108 days of talks in Kuwait broke down and a rebel delegation was stranded in Oman for three months due to an air blockade.

The Houthi rebels first seized control of the capital and a string of Red Sea ports in 2014, driving the government out of Sanaa and Hadi into exile. 

In 2015, Saudi Arabia and its allies intervened in the conflict to bolster President Hadi. They now control Yemen's airspace.

Since the war began more than three years ago, nearly 10,000 people have since been killed and the country now stands at the brink of famine.

The UN has called the war in Yemen the "world's worst humanitarian disaster".

Agencies contributed to this report.

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