58 combatants killed in fighting for Yemen’s Hodeida: medics

Blanche Robertson
November 9, 2018

A pro-government military source said that loyalists backed by a Saudi-led coalition made "limited advances" towards the city and its Red Sea port, through which more than 70 percent of the impoverished country's imports pass.

Separately, rights group Amnesty International warned against Houthi rebels taking up positions on a hospital rooftop in Hodeidah.

Also on Wednesday, the worldwide medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders said it was closing its humanitarian project in the southern Dhale province due to security concerns amid the fighting there.

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 rebels admit they are outnumbered but have vowed to fight on.

Ceasefires in Yemen's civil war have rarely held, and peace talks have repeatedly broken down in the past.

News of the RAF training the Saudi pilots prompted Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry to urge the Tory government to "come clean" on its role in the war. It said that the coalition, which relies heavily on air power, has killed scores of civilians in recent airstrikes, and rebels are responding with mortars in residential neighbourhoods that cause indiscriminate casualties.

Amnesty's Samah Hadid says the Houthi presence on the hospital rooftop "violates global humanitarian law, but this violation does not make the hospital and the patients and medical staff lawful targets" for the coalition.

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Hadid said the hospital was full of wounded "civilians who have nowhere else to go for lifesaving medical care. Anyone attacking a hospital under these conditions risks responsibility for war crimes".

An Emirati-trained force known as the Giants, backed by Apache attack helicopters, secured an urban area along 50th Street, which leads to the city's key Red Sea port facilities some 5 kilometers (3 miles) away, they added.

The United States, France and Britain - all veto-wielding council members - support the coalition in its campaign, launched in 2015, to restore the internationally-recognized government in Yemen but the heavy civilian toll has raised concerns.

The head of the U.N.'s food and agriculture agency and other groups say the conflict has pushed Yemen to the brink of starvation, underlining how the global community is failing to end hunger. The United States sells most of the weapons used by the coalition, while the rebels largely use local stocks.

Saudi Arabia and its allies accuse Iran of using Hodeida port to smuggle missiles to the Huthis, a charge Tehran denies.

The aid group said civilians were reported leaving Hudaida over the weekend but that it was hard to assess how many remained trapped inside.

Meanwhile, on Thursday, Hadi appointed Mohammed al-Maqdishi as new defence minister and Abdullah Al-Nakhi as new army chief of staff, according to the official SABA news agency.

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