UAE troops killed in battle to retake Yemen's port city Hodeida

Arturo Kim
June 15, 2018

The plan includes measures to ensure the protection of civilians, secure power supplies and allow aid to enter the city.

Saudi-owned satellite news channels have announced the start of the Saudi-led coalition's assault on Hodeida. "That was the situation before, and now it is going to get worse".

The coalition's initial battle plan appears to involve a pincer movement.

United States officials confirmed the attack and that the ship was on fire, while adding that the vessel indeed was owned by the UAE, CNN reported.

Yemen's government said Wednesday that negotiations had failed to force the Houthis from Hudaida, and that a grace period for UN-led peace efforts was over.

The United States rejected a request from the UAE for intelligence, mine-sweeping and airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) assets for the Hodeidah operation, a UAE official said, speaking on condition of anonymity, while noting congressional opposition.

"The liberation of Hudaydah port is a turning point in our struggle to recapture Yemen from the militias that hijacked it to serve foreign agendas", the exiled government said in a separate statement carried by state-run Yemeni media.

Hadi met Abu Dhabi crown prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan to discuss the mutual cooperation over regaining control of Hodeidah city, Saba reported.

The UAE, a driving force in the coalition, said four of its troops were killed on the first day of the offensive Wednesday including at least one navy officer.

Forces loyal to the exiled executive and militiamen led by Emirati soldiers approached Hodeida in recent days. Houthi rebels are a Zaydi Shiite religious minority who seized the capital Sanaa in 2014 and now control a significant amount of territory in western Yemen. "Some civilians are entrapped, others forced from their homes", said Jolien Veldwijk, the acting country director of the aid group CARE International, which works in Hodeida.

As Common Dreams reported earlier this month, the Trump administration has been considering deepening United States military involvement in the Saudi bombardment of Yemen, which has pushed eight million Yemenis to the brink of starvation.

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Aid groups nevertheless warned of disaster.

Commenting on the situation, he said: "People are already literally dying of starvation". The International Committee of the Red Cross said last week it had pulled 71 foreign staff out of Yemen. "The British told us a week ago that the Emiratis and the Saudis had told them they would not enter the battle of Hodeidah without their agreement and assistance", he said.

The war in Yemen has displaced 2 million more and helped spawn a cholera epidemic. Saudi-led airstrikes that killed large numbers of civilians and damaged vital infrastructure.

Riyadh says the Houthis use the port to smuggle in Iranian-made weapons, including missiles that have targeted Saudi cities.

The coalition has blocked most ports, letting supplies into Hodeida in coordination with the U.N. The air campaign and fighting have disrupted other supply lines, causing an economic crisis that makes food too expensive for many to afford. Those contacted by AFP said Houthi fighters had fanned out across the city.

"We hear sounds of explosions".

November 2017: The coalition imposes a complete blockade on Yemen in response to a missile fired by the Houthis at the Riyadh airport. "Hudaydah's residents are some of the poorest people in Yemen, and many of them haven't gotten paid in 20 months", Kurd said Wednesday via the WhatsApp messaging service.

Two Saudi and UAE aid ships were in the waters off Hudaida, coalition spokesman Turki al-Maliki told Saudi state media.

The attack came as Washington was focused on President Donald Trump's summit this week with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

There were even a few scant claims that U.S. military advisers were on board the coalition warship when it was hit, but Pentagon Spokesman Major Adrian Rankine-Galloway told Business Insider that there are no United States military advisers on the ground and he said he hadn't even heard of the ship getting hit.

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