Yemen forces launch assault on Hodeida port city: field commanders

Yemen forces launch assault on Hodeida port city: field commanders

The Houthi-run Al Masirah satellite news channel claimed rebel forces hit a Saudi coalition ship near Hodeida with two missiles.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have announced what they say is a "multi-faceted plan" to protect civilians in Yemen's port city of Hodeida, where forces from both countries are leading an assault to drive out Yemeni rebels.

"As has been the case since the beginning of the war, the cost of the battle for Hodeida will largely accrue to the already impoverished civilian population", the International Crisis Group warned in a report Monday.

The Saudi Air Defense Force intercepted a ballistic missile fired by the Iran-backed Houthi militias from Saada province, Yemen, towards Saudi territories, UAE state news agency WAM reported on Wednesday.

Before dawn, convoys of vehicles appeared to be heading toward the rebel-held city on the Red Sea, according to videos posted on social media.

The U.S. has been supplying targeting information to the Saudi-led coalition, as well as refuelling their warplanes, but was not involved in military operations at the port, Pentagon spokesman Maj.

The Security Council has strongly supported efforts by new United Nations special envoy Martin Griffiths to resume political negotiations and avoid a military escalation of the three-year-long conflict that has killed more than 10,000 people, displaced more than 2 million, and created the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

Four Emirati soldiers were killed in Wednesday's assault, the United Arab Emirates' state-run news agency said, but gave no details of how they died.

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The two sides were also at odds over the recent deployment of UAE forces to the Yemen's Arabian Sea island of Socotra, a dispute mediated by Saudi officials.

The Huthis captured Hodeida and Yemen's capital Sanaa in 2014.

On Thursday, the International Committee of the Red Cross said it had pulled 71 staff members out of Yemen after a series of security incidents and threats.

The war pits the Houthis against the Western-backed Sunni Muslim states, which intervened in 2015 to restore the exiled government and thwart what Riyadh and Abu Dhabi see as expansionist aims Iran.

"We are in constant contact with all the parties involved to negotiate arrangements for Hodeida that would address political, humanitarian, security concerns of all concerned parties", said Martin Griffiths in a statement. The sound of heavy, sustained gunfire clearly could be heard.

The UN on Monday withdrew all of its worldwide staff from Hodeida ahead of the impending assault, warning that any offensive would put millions of lives at risk.

The bombing began on Wednesday after the rebels ignored a deadline set by the Yemeni government to withdraw from the port.

"We do not provide any additional support to the Saudi coalition's military operations", he said.

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