Parts of missiles fired at Saudi Arabia came from Iran - UN chief

Parts of missiles fired at Saudi Arabia came from Iran - UN chief

Parts of missiles fired at Saudi Arabia came from Iran - UN chief

The United States rejected a UAE request for intelligence, minesweeping and airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets for the military operation in Yemen's Hodeidah, a UAE official said on Thursday.

However, the official said France had agreed to provide mine-sweeping support.

The Saudi-led coalition backing Yemen's exiled government captured a town south of the port city of Hodeida on Thursday as fierce fighting and airstrikes pounded the area on the second day of an offensive to capture the strategic harbor that is the main entry point for food in a country teetering on the brink of starvation.

Coalition spokespeople said 18 air attacks were fired on the outskirts of Hudaida on Wednesday.

Iran has condemned the Saudi-led coalition's assault on the Yemeni port city of Hodeida, which is controlled by rebels aligned with Tehran.

A number of governors and local military leaders gathered at Aden's International Airport to greet Hadi amid heavy deployment of armored vehicles and elite soldiers in the area, the source said anonymously.

He said it would take Arab forces about 72 hours to clear mines from Hodeidah's port or airport once it captures them.

The battle for Hodeidah marks a major milestone in a war that has battered Yemen's civilians for years, since the Iran-backed Houthis overthrew the country's government. It will be the second time the Council convenes this week over the situation in Yemen, which aid groups warn stares at an imminent humanitarian crisis.

The United Nations Security Council convened an emergency session Thursday to discuss the violence, which flushed some of the organization's staff from the city earlier this week. "We hope for a rapid conclusion", she said, "but we are facing a small, fanatical group of fighters armed by Iran".

"Should we leave the Houthis smuggling missiles?"

Yemen's government under President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi declared on Wednesday that it had begun an operation to retake Hodeidah, a key stronghold of Houthi anti-government forces.

A source at the missile command of the Yemeni army and Popular Committees said the forces mounted a missile attack against gatherings of the Saudi-led coalition troops and Riyadh-backed militants on the west coast, the Arabic-language al-Masirah TV network reported.

Worldwide aid groups cautioned the threat of a major humanitarian catastrophe was growing as fighting drew closer to Hodeida, with the United Nations estimating some 600,000 people live in and around the city.

Capturing Hudaida would give the Saudi-led coalition the upper hand in the war, in which neither side has made much progress since the coalition intervened in 2015 to restore the internationally recognised government in exile.

The violence has devastated Yemen's infrastructure, including water and sanitation systems, prompting the United Nations to describe the situation as one of "the worst humanitarian disasters in modern times".

Aid workers have warned the assault on Hodieda's port, known as the "mouth of Yemen", could shut down the vital route for some 70 percent of Yemen's food and humanitarian aid.

View of the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah, Yemen, June 14, 2018.

"We are there and delivering, we are not leaving Hodeidah", U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Yemen Lise Grande told media.

The air attacks targeting Houthi positions have been supported by ground operations by foreign and Yemeni troops south of the Red Sea port. Pro-government forces were two kilometres south of the rebel-held airport on Thursday.

There was, however, not enough support to urge Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) - which back pro-government Yemeni forces - to halt the offensive.

"We are not directly supporting the coalition offensive on the port of Hodeidah", Pentagon spokesman Maj. Over 14300 people, mostly civilians have lost their lives since then.

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