Saudi Arabia and its allies have intensified a brutal offensive on Yemen’s Hudaydah — whose port is the country’s only conduit to the outside world under a Saudi-led blockade — killing at least three people and injuring 35 others.
According to Yemen’s al-Masirah television, medical sources said the Saudi airstrikes killed two people and wounded 24 others on the outskirts of the Red Sea port city of Hudaydah on Monday.
Earlier in the day, five inmates at Hudaydah’s central prison were injured as Saudi warplanes launched several air raids on the prison.
A girl was also wounded and a mosque was damaged in an artillery attack launched by Saudi-backed mercenaries in the province.
Saudi-backed militants also conducted an attack on a Yemeni factory, leaving a worker dead and five others injured.
Al-Masirah released footage showing residential buildings targeted in the district of Hali in Hudaydah on Monday.
The Saudi-led coalition and militia groups loyal to Yemen’s former president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, have been pushing over the past several months to capture the city of Hudaydah, which is seen as the main entry point for food imports and aid relief needed by millions in the war-torn country.
They have severely intensified their attacks on Hudaydah over the past couple of days.
After visiting the streets of Hudaydah, Mohammed al-Bakhiiti, a member of the Political Council of the Houthi Ansarullah movement, said the Yemeni forces had managed to inflict heavy losses on the Saudi-backed mercenaries despite the aerial cover of the latter.
He said scores of militants had been killed.
Yemen’s popular committees also released video footage, refuting claims of an advance made by the mercenaries in the city.
The escalating violence in Hudaydah comes despite a call by the United Nations (UN) for the resumption of peace talks and a ceasefire in Yemen.
The United Nations says it aims to resume Yemen peace talks “within a month”.
Officials from the United States — which is itself aiding the Saudi-led coalition in the war on Yemen — have also called for a ceasefire in the country, amid mounting civilian casualties and the creation of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis there.
Despite that, the Saudi-led coalition has purportedly sent 10,000 new forces to the Red Sea coast for the new offensive on Hudaydah.
Some observers see the intensified Saudi-led offensive on Hudaydah as an attempt to gain the upper hand in potential talks, especially after a call for a ceasefire by the coalition’s main ally, the US.
‘570k displaced Yemenis receive aid near Hudaydah’
Meanwhile, speaking at a press conference in New York City on Monday, UN secretary-general’s spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said, “Conflict has escalated significantly around Hudaydah City over the weekend, including increased clashes and air strikes as well as artillery shelling.”
He stressed that affected areas are “primarily on the southern and eastern outskirts of Hudaydah.”
Dujarric said humanitarian aid had been provided to nearly 570,000 displaced people in Hudaydah since the start of the Saudi-led offensive in the province last June.
“Since the June 1, more than 570,000 people have been displaced by conflict across Hudaydah Governorate; the UN and its humanitarian partners have reached nearly all these people with emergency relief packages,” he said.
Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched a devastating military campaign against Yemen in March 2015, with the aim of bringing the government of Hadi back to power.
According to a new report by the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), a nonprofit conflict-research organization, the Saudi-led war has so far claimed the lives of around 56,000 Yemenis.
Geert Cappelaere, the regional director for UN children’s agency UNICEF, said Sunday that Yemen had turned into a “living hell” for children, with thousands dying every year from malnutrition and easily preventable diseases.
Cappelaere had recently visited Hudaydah.
The UN has estimated that up to 14 million Yemenis — nearly half the country’s population — will suffer severe food shortages in the upcoming few months.