SAT 19 - 1 - 2019
Nov 5, 2018
The Daily Star
Over 150 killed in weekend violence around Yemen's Hudaida
Agence France Presse
HUDAIDA, Yemen: Dozens of Yemeni rebels have been killed in battles and airstrikes in Hudaida, medics said Sunday, as pro-government forces advanced in the rebel-held Red Sea port city.
The bloodshed comes despite growing international pressure to end a years-long conflict that has left thousands dead.
Fifty-three Houthi rebels were killed and dozens were injured over the past 24 hours, medical sources in Hudaida told AFP.
Clashes intensified in the city and centered around its university Saturday and Sunday morning, a pro-government military official said.
Houthi media reported airstrikes in Hudaida Sunday but did not give a fighter casualty toll.
Military officials said Arab coalition warplanes carried out dozens of airstrikes to support pro-government forces in the fighting which began Thursday evening.
Thirteen pro-government troops were killed, medical sources in Aden and Mokha – where the fighters were transported – told AFP.
The clashes erupted Thursday just hours after the government said it was ready to restart peace talks with the Iran-backed Houthi rebels.
The offer followed a surprise call by the United States for an end to the Yemen war, including airstrikes by the coalition.
Yemeni officials say fighting has escalated around Hudaida, with more than 150 combatants killed over the weekend from both the rebel and government-backed side.
Officials said that airstrikes and naval artillery have pounded rebel positions around the Red Sea costal city, which government backed-troops launching a major ground assault seek to wrest from dug-in rebels. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.
Hudaida port is the entry point for more than 70 percent of imports into the impoverished country, which is teetering on the edge of famine.
Hollywood star Angelina Jolie, a special envoy for the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR), appealed for an immediate ceasefire.
"As an international community we have been shamefully slow to act to end the crisis in Yemen," she said in a statement during a trip to South Korea.
"We have watched the situation deteriorate to the point that Yemen is now on the brink of man-made famine, and facing the worst cholera epidemic in the world in decades," Jolie added.
"The only way to enable refugees to return home, and to bring down the overall numbers worldwide, is to end conflicts themselves."
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres Friday had called for a halt to violence to pull Yemen back from the "precipice."
After U.N.-backed peace talks collapsed in September, the coalition announced it was relaunching an assault on Hudaida.
Yemeni government officials said Tuesday that the coalition had sent more than 10,000 new troops towards the battleground city.
Saudi Arabia and its allies intervened in the war in 2015 to bolster Yemeni President Abed Rabbou Mansour Hadi after the rebels took over the capital Sanaa and drove the government further south to Aden.
According to the World Health Organization, nearly 10,000 people have since been killed.
Some rights groups estimate the toll could be five times higher.
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