A Saudi-led alliance of Arab states launched an attack on Yemen’s main port city on Wednesday in the largest battle of the war, aiming to bring the ruling Houthi movement to its knees at the risk of worsening the world’s biggest humanitarian crisis, APA reports quoting Reuters.
Arab warplanes and warships pounded Houthi fortifications to support ground operations by foreign and Yemeni troops massed south of the port of Hodeidah in operation “Golden Victory”.
Fighting raged near Hodeidah airport and al-Durayhmi, a rural area 10 km (6 miles) south of the city, media controlled by the Arab states and their Yemeni allies reported.
The assault marks the first time the Arab states have tried to capture such a heavily-defended major city since joining the war three years ago against the Iran-aligned Houthis, who control Sanaa and most of the populated areas.
The Saudi-led coalition’s plan is to take control only of the airport and seaport, plus the route leading to the Yemeni capital of Sanaa, spokesman Turki al-Maliki said. “We will not fight a street war with the Houthis in Hodeidah city, for the safety of civilians,” he told al-Hadath TV.
Yemen is suffering a humanitarian crisis that eclipses even Syria’s. The United Nations says 22 million Yemenis are in need of humanitarian aid, with 8.4 million on the verge of famine - a figure that could rise to 10 million by the end of this year, For most the port is the only route for food supplies.
Despite the fighting, the U.N. kept up its aid supplies. “We are there and delivering, we are not leaving Hodeidah,” Lise Grande, U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, said.