TEHRAN (Press Shia Agency) – Foreign militants backed by the Saudi-led coalition launched an assault on Yemen’s main port city of Hudaydah on Wednesday.
Coalition warplanes and warships were carrying out strikes on Hudaydah to support ground operations by UAE-backed troops massed south of the Red Sea port, Reuters reported.
The assault began after the expiry of a deadline set by the United Arab Emirates for the Houthis, who hold the capital Sana’a, to hand over the sole port under their control.
The port city serves as a lifeline for aid delivery to the war-stricken country.
The United Nations had been trying in the last few weeks to get the parties to reach a deal that would avert the attack, which it fears would further impede Yemenis’ access to food, fuel and medicine, exacerbating the world’s most urgent humanitarian crisis in the impoverished Arab state.
“These are the last and final hours to get unconditional guarantees that the Houthis will leave the port,” UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said on Tuesday.
The Saudi-led coalition claims that the Houthi Ansarullah movement is using Hudaydah for weapons delivery, an allegation rejected by the movement.
The Houthis have pledged strong resistance in the face of the assault, which is said to be the largest of its kind since the onset of the war in early 2015.
UN Humanitarian Coordinator Lise Grande has announced that “as many as 250,000 people may lose everything -even their lives,” if there is a military attack on Hudaydah.
Since March 2015, Saudi Arabia and some of its Arab allies have been carrying out airstrikes against the Houthi Ansarullah movement in Yemen in an attempt to restore power to fugitive former president Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, a close ally of Riyadh.
Over 14,000 Yemenis, including women and children, have died in the deadly military campaign.