Coalition says Iran is arming Yemen rebels

Glen Norman
June 23, 2018

Yemeni troops backed by the Saudi and UAE-led coalition entered the airport compound in Yemen's port city of Hodeidah on Tuesday, June 19 after days of fighting with the Houthi rebels.

According to military sources, more than 250 Houthi fighters were killed and hundreds others were injured in the battle of liberating the airport on Tuesday while 87 Houthis were held captives by the national army and resistance forces.

Fierce fighting raged Tuesday outside the airport of the crucial Yemeni city of Hodeida as thousands of pro-government fighters backed by a Saudi-led coalition battled Iranian-allied Shiite rebels for control of the Red Sea port - the main passageway for food and aid supplies in a country teetering on the brink of starvation. Saudi Arabia has provided air support, with targeting guidance and refueling coming from the U.S. "Some areas even prior to the war were not even connected to the main water supply", said Saleem Al Shamiri, livelihood coordinator at the Norwegian Refugee Council.

United Nations officials estimate that 600,000 people live in and around Hodeidah and that in a worst-case scenario the battles could cost up to 250,000 lives.

"From our perspective, three years of war is enough".

Following the report, an Aramco official told Reuters that the company's facilities were "safe and are operating normally". He also said Yemeni fighters not only blocked the invaders' advance in six fronts around the city but also managed to destroy a large number of their military and armored vehicles. Aid groups have expressed alarm about the operation, but so far coalition forces remain bogged down in battles south of the city, and the port has remained open. They are backed by Emirati troops on the ground and Saudi and UAE warplanes and Apache attack helicopters.

Colonel al-Malki referred to the process and the political efforts in Yemen, the most recent of which was the visit of UN Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffith to Yemen in early June, during which he met with the Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi and some representatives of the countries of the region, before moving to Sana'a.

But Senior Houthi official Dhaifullah Shami said on Twitter that Griffiths had "failed to achieve his goal and left Sanaa disappointed, without obtaining concessions". They say their movement reflects a popular revolt against state corruption and foreign meddling.

Saudi Arabia accuses the Houthis of using Hodeidah's port to smuggle in Iranian-made weapons, including missiles that have been fired at Saudi cities.

The Houthis, who control most of the populated areas in the unstable nation of 30 million people, deny the Arab states' assertions they are puppets of Iran.

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