Saudi-led coalition forces begin assault on Yemen aid port

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The Saudi-led coalition backing Yemen's exiled government began an assault Wednesday, June 13, 2018 on the port city of Hodeida, the main entry point for food in a country already teetering on the brink of starvation. The United Nations says 22 million Yemenis are in need of humanitarian aid, with 8.4 million on the verge of starvation - 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. He said the U.N. Security Council must act to secure a cease-fire before the people of Hodeida "suffer the same fate as those in Aleppo, Mosul or Raqqa".

Hadi's government said in a statement reported by Saudi media on Wednesday that all political and peaceful approaches to drive the Houthis out of Hodeidah had been exhausted.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated on Monday that the United States is "closely following developments in Hudaydah", and added the USA wants to preserve "the free flow of humanitarian aid and life-saving commercial imports".

Agencies have warned of a humanitarian catastrophe.

Responding to the early stages of the attack-which began with an estimated 30 Saudi airstrikes within half an hour, guided by U.S. military intelligence-Win Without War wrote on Twitter that the attack is "a dark moment of shame for the United States".

United States officials confirmed the attack and that the ship was on fire, while adding that the vessel indeed was owned by the UAE, CNN reported. Grande on Monday said while the United Nations had relocated worldwide staff from the city, numerous local staff had chosen to stay to try to continue United Nations programs.

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The British government of Prime Minister Theresa May, which like the Trump administration and the Obama administration before it, has backed Saudi Arabia and the UAE with massive arms sales, was clearly warned in advance by the UAE of the impending siege, passing on an advisory to British-based aid groups late last week to evacuate the city.

Despite the fighting, the United Nations kept up its aid supplies.

Its leader, exiled President Abd-Rabbu Mansour al-Hadi, said his government had proposed compromises but would not let the Houthis hold the Yemeni people "hostage to a prolonged war which the Houthis ignited".

Houthi forces have also used improvised surface-to-air missile systems captured from the Yemeni military to attack Saudi-led coalition aircraft operating over the country.

Besides naval and ground assaults, Saudi-led jets launched more than 10 strikes on Hodeidah province, including targets in civilian areas, Saba noted, in a separate report.

"The liberation of Hudaydah port is a turning point in our struggle to recapture Yemen from the militias that hijacked it to serve foreign agendas", the exiled government said.

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David Miliband, the head of the International Rescue Committee, called the offensive "an attack on the political and diplomatic process to bring peace to Yemen".

The two countries also said they would operate a dedicated shipping lane to Hodeidah from Abu Dhabi and the southern Saudi city of Jizan to deliver food and medical supplies.

Jolien Veldwijk, the acting country director for CARE International, called the attack "catastrophic, hopeless and devastating".

Riyadh says the Houthis use the port to smuggle Iranian-made weapons, including missiles that have targeted Saudi cities - accusations denied by the group and Tehran.

The ongoing Coalition intervention in Yemen came at the request of the legitimate Government of Yemen after Houthi rebels took the Yemeni capital by force in 2014. UNICEF said an attack would put approximately 300,000 children in the city at risk.

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