Saudi coalition hits Houthi rebels outside Yemen's Hodeida

Saudi coalition hits Houthi rebels outside Yemen's Hodeida
Hodeida is the latest battlefront in a war that has killed nearly 10,000 people since 2015 and pushed Yemen to the brink of famine.
3 min read
03 July, 2018
Hodeida is the latest battlefront in Yemen's deadly war. [Getty]

Yemeni government forces backed by Saudi Arabia and the UAE have bombarded rebel positions outside Hodeida after pausing their push into the strategic Red Sea port city, government sources said on Tuesday.

Hospital sources said 11 civilians and 43 rebel fighters had been killed on Sunday and Monday as the rebels came under fire south of Hodeida and in some cases retaliated.

The rebels have held Hodeida since 2014 but in a major offensive last month government forces backed by the UAE and other coalition troops captured the disused airport on its southern outskirts - a major stepping stone for any drive into the city.

On Saturday, the government and the UAE announced a pause in their advance.

This week's deadly bombardment targeted rebel positions in Tohayta, Beit al-Faqiya and Zabid, to the south of Hodeida, the government military sources said.

Three civilians were killed in their car in a coalition air strike against rebel military vehicles on a road near Zabid, residents said.

Eight civilians, including four children, were killed by rocket fire in Tohayta, witnesses said. Residents blamed the rebels.

In both incidents, hospital sources confirmed receiving the bodies.

Hodeida is the latest battlefront in a war that has killed nearly 10,000 people since 2015, most of them civilians, and pushed the impoverished country to the brink of famine.

UNICEF said on Tuesday that more than 2,200 children had died in the conflict, which intensified after a Saudi-led coalition intervened in March 2015.

Desperately needed relief supplies and three-quarters of Yemen's commercial imports pass through the city's port.

UN envoy Martin Griffiths arrived in the rebel-held capital Sanaa on Sunday, in a new bid to reach a deal to avert an all-out battle for Hodeida that could cause major casualties in the city's streets and damage to its docks.

Griffiths has said a proposal to grant the UN a major role in managing the port is under study. 

The government and the UAE have demanded the rebels withdraw unconditionally from the whole city, not just the port, something the rebels have rejected.

The UAE says the rebels' departure from Hodeida, whether voluntary or by force, is necessary to stop them smuggling in weapons.

The UN on Tuesday slammed the devastating impact of Yemen's three-year conflict on children, with some 2,200 minors killed, and many more going hungry, forced to fight or dying from preventable diseases.

"The relentless conflict in Yemen has pushed a country already on the brink deep into the abyss," warned Henrietta Fore, the executive director of the UN children's agency.

Fore pointed out to journalists in Geneva that millions of children were out of school and many were being forced to fight with different sides in the conflict.

Others were being married off, going hungry and dying from preventable diseases like cholera, she said.

Children make up half of the some 22 million people in Yemen who rely on humanitarian aid to survive.