Rejected UAE request for intelligence support for Yemen operation: UAE official

17 June, 2018, 18:00 | Author: Sheila Harris
  • Fighting In Yemen Port City Threatens Aid Shipments

Arab troops appeared poised to enter the airport of Yemen's main port, Hodeidah, on Friday as a Saudi-led alliance prepared to seize the city in the biggest battle of a three-year war.

The missile, fired towards Khamis Mushayt city and targeting civilian areas, was intercepted and destroyed by Saudi Royal Air Defense Forces.

Hodeida is the main entry for food into a country already on the brink of starvation. It was not clear what advances, if any, the ground troops backed by the Saudi-led coalition had made in Hodeida, or what the scope of casualties were.

In a series of tweets, the International Committee of the Red Cross said the people in Hodeida were "bracing for the worst", and tens of thousands were expected to flee in the coming days, some for a second time.

Local forces trained and financed by the Emirati military clashed on the southern outskirts of the city with fighters loyal to the Yemeni rebel movement, the Houthis, that has controlled Hodeida for the last three years.

He went on to point out that some 19 million people - roughly 70 percent of Yemen's population - rely on commercial and humanitarian shipments entering the country through Al-Hudeidah. He also said the members are calling for the port in Hodeidah to be kept open.

A Saudi-led coalition intervened in Yemen in 2015, backing government forces fighting Iran-allied Houthi rebels.

The Turkish military said on Friday airstrikes its forces carried out killed 26 Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants in northern.

The United States rejected a request from the UAE for intelligence, mine-sweeping and air reconnaissance assets for the Hodeidah operation, a UAE official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

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"We saw the resistance forces in the square at the northwestern entrance to the airport", said a Hodeidah resident, referring to Yemeni allies of the Saudi-led coalition.

The official said that the Trump administration denied the requests within the past 24 hours as a UAE operation to wrest control of the port from Iranian-backed Shiite rebels got underway.

Yemen's president has returned to his country after apparently patching up relations with the United Arab Emirates, which along with Saudi Arabia is leading an assault on Yemen's rebel-held port city of Hodeida. "There have been terrifying bombing runs since the morning when they struck Houthi positions near the airport", said fish vendor Ammar Ahmed.

"We believe the coalition operations can create the right dynamic under the Yemeni government leadership to advance the work of the U.N. Special envoy Martin Griffiths in support of his peace plan", UAE U.N. Ambassador Lana Nusseibeh told reporters.

"Our desire in Hodeidah is not to infuriate the Houthis or to kill as many of them as we possibly can", he said.

In the face of global concerns over the humanitarian situation, the UAE said on Friday that it would begin sending aid by air and sea to Hodeida, the state-run WAM news agency said.

Nevertheless, the United Nations envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, has continued to hold talks on keeping Hodeidah open and has urged all sides to exercise restraint.

Global aid agencies and the United Nations have warned the assault could shut down the vital aid route for some 70 per cent of Yemen's food, as well as the bulk of humanitarian aid and fuel supplies.

The Saudi-led coalition said this week that they began their assault on Hodeida on behalf of Mr Hadi's government.

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