National Post (Latest Edition) - - WORLD -

SANAA, YE­MEN 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 har­bour that is the main en­try point for food in a coun­try tee­ter­ing on the brink of famine.

A Saudi mil­i­tary spokesman said the forces were draw­ing closer to the Red Sea port in a cam­paign aimed at driv­ing out Ira­ni­analigned Shi­ite rebels known as Houthis, who have held Hodeida since 2015, and break­ing the civil war’s long stale­mate.

Aid agen­cies and the United Na­tions have warned the as­sault could shut down the vi­tal aid route for some 70 per cent of Ye­men’s food, as well as the bulk of hu­man­i­tar­ian aid and fuel sup­plies. Around two-thirds of Ye­men’s pop­u­la­tion of 27 mil­lion re­lies on aid and 8.4 mil­lion are al­ready at risk of starv­ing.

The United Arab Emi­rates am­bas­sador to UN agen­cies in Geneva main­tained the coali­tion had no choice but to act.

“Should we leave the Houthis smug­gling mis­siles?” Am­bas­sador Obaid Salem al-Zaabi said. “We al­ready gave the United Na­tions the chance to op­er­ate from this sea­port, and (the Houthis) re­fused.”


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