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Yemeni rebels halt Arab forces’ advance in Hodeida

Gulf Arab Region | 2018-11-07 10:00:00
Yemeni rebels halt Arab forces’ advance in Hodeida
Yemen’s rebels claim they halted advances of their adversaries, the U.S.-backed Arab coalition, at a key battlefield around a strategic Red Sea port city. Fighting continued around Hodeida Tuesday despite the statement from the Houthis that a three-pronged coalition assault had been stopped around the city’s outskirts.

The Iran-backed Houthis said they lost at least 30 men and a dozen armored vehicles.

Dozens of fighters have been killed and hundreds wounded from both sides since a renewed coalition offensive on the city began five days ago, following calls by the Trump administration for a cease-fire by late November.

The fighting has left dead bodies lying on the ground and inside burnt-out vehicles at the city’s edge, according to witnesses who spoke on condition of anonymity, fearing for their safety. The witnesses also said several civilians have been killed by shelling in residential areas.

The United Nations’ children’s agency warned that the battle has placed the lives of dozens of children in danger at a hospital perilously close to the fighting.

“Intense fighting in the Yemeni port city of Hodeida is now dangerously close to Al-Thawra hospital putting the lives of 59 children, including 25 in the intensive care unit, at imminent risk of death,” UNICEF said in a statement.

Medics at hospitals in the Hodeida neighborhood of Bajil reported they had received the bodies of 49 Houthi rebels Tuesday morning.

Local media reported that air raids by the coalition were continuing, as was sporadic fighting around Hodeida, especially along 50th street and the 7th of July neighborhoods in the east.

Other active fronts in Yemen include the provinces of Dhale and Bayda, to the south, and in the north in Hajjah and Saada, a Houthi stronghold.

The Houthi statement also claimed the rebels stopped an attempted incursion by “mercenaries of the Saudi army,” into Yemen from Jizan, a region across the border in Saudi Arabia.

Earlier Tuesday, the rebels detained two journalists in the capital, Sanaa, colleagues said, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals. One man was taken from his production company’s office, and another from his home, and both worked with foreign television news channels.

Meanwhile, the Norwegian Refugee Council said millions of Yemenis are edging closer to famine as the coalition’s blockade on sea, land and air routes in the Arab world’s poorest country continued.

The coalition restricted access to Yemen in November last year, after a missile assault by rebels targeted the Saudi capital, Riyadh.

Hodeida, the main portal for humanitarian aid to the suffering population, has become the epicenter of the conflict.

The United States has sold billions of dollars’ worth of arms to Saudi Arabia and provides logistical and other support to the coalition.

Jan Egeland of the NRC further explained “the past 12 months have been a never-ending nightmare for Yemeni civilians.”

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) Tuesday said: “As fighting intensifies in Hodeida, MSF is concerned for patients and staff at Al-Salakhana hospital and for thousands of residents who remain in the city.

“All parties to the conflict must ensure that civilians and facilities such as hospitals are protected in Yemen,” the aid group tweeted.

Save the Children has reported 100 airstrikes counted by its staff at the weekend five times as many as in the whole first week of October.

The Norwegian Refugee Council Monday warned fighting and airstrikes in Hodeida threatened “to further deteriorate civilians’ access to safety and aid.”

Yemen’s government Tuesday approved new budget and tax collection measures aimed at bolstering the central bank as looming famine threatens millions.

The Cabinet backed the formation of a committee tasked with setting the government budget for 2019, according to state news agency Saba.

It also passed a resolution pushing for the collection of owed taxes and customs “on all taxable imports at all land, sea and air ports in liberated areas,” or areas under government control.

The Yemeni riyal has plunged more than 36 percent in 2018, despite a $2-billion deposit in the central bank by Saudi Arabia aimed at saving the currency.

The riyal’s slide has triggered a sharp rise in the prices of commodities, especially food and fuel, leaving millions unable to afford basic staples.

The rial has now lost two-thirds of its value since 2015, when the coalition intervened in support of Hadi’s government triggering a grueling war of attrition.
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