Dozens dead as Hudaydah resists new Saudi offensive

Press TV – Yemeni forces are battling mercenaries and Saudi-backed militiamen loyal to resigned president Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi in Hudaydah where dozens have been killed in recent days. 

Pro-Hadi officials said Sunday a fresh offensive is being waged with the use of sophisticated weapons under the Saudi air cover to capture the district of Zubaid, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Dozens were reportedly killed on both sides of the fighting, including at least 18 people in the district of Durayhimi south of Hudaydah, which came under airstrikes.

Houthi fighters and their allies in the Yemeni army were trying to break into Durayhimi, about 20 kilometers south of Hudaydah International Airport, sources said.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE launched their offensive on June 13 to capture Hudaydah, the main entry point for food in a country teetering on the brink of famine.

The operation, however, came into an immediate halt in the face of stiff resistance by Houthi fighters and residents of the port city, which forced the kingdom to wind down the push.

Last week, Saudi-backed forces began a heavy bombardment of the city after two very large crude carriers of the kingdom were targeted and the Abu Dhabi airport was forced to shut down following a Houthi drone incursion.

The Saudi government said on Wednesday it had suspended oil shipments through the Red Sea.

Humanitarian organizations have warned that the new operation threatens to cut off essential supplies to millions of people through Hudaydah which receives more than 70 percent of Yemen’s imports.

Saudi Arabia and its allies claim the Houthis are using Hudaydah for weapons delivery, an allegation which the movement denies.

International NGO Save the Children has warned that fresh Saudi attacks could create the ideal conditions for a catastrophic new cholera outbreak affecting thousands of people in Hudaydah.

Around a million Yemenis contracted cholera between 2016 and 2017, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross. Over 2,000 died, including many children, according to the World Health Organization.

On Sunday, the United Nations warned that Hudaydah was just “one airstrike away from an unstoppable epidemic.”

According to a report by Yemeni Ministry of Human Rights, the ongoing Saudi-led military campaign against Yemen has killed and injured over 600,000 civilians since March 2015.

Much of the Arabian Peninsula country’s infrastructure, including hospitals, schools and factories, has been reduced to rubble.

The Saudi air, sea, and land blockade has also led to the worst humanitarian situation in the world, putting more than 20 million Yemenis on the verge of famine.

The United Nations says a record 22.2 million Yemenis are in need of food aid, including 8.4 million threatened by severe hunger.