Saudi airstrikes kill 15 on Hodeida-sana’a high­way

Iran Daily - - International -

At least 15 peo­ple lost their lives in fresh air raids con­ducted by Saudi war­planes on a strate­gic road link­ing the Ye­meni port city of Hodeida to the cap­i­tal, Sana’a.

The Al-masirah tele­vi­sion net­work af­fil­i­ated to Ye­men’s Houthi An­sarul­lah move­ment re­ported that more than 20 peo­ple had also been in­jured in the aerial assaults on the Kilo 16 high­way, ac­cord­ing to Press TV.

Over the past few days, fight­ing has in­ten­si­fied be­tween Houthi fight­ers and Saudi-backed forces loyal to former Ye­meni pres­i­dent Abd Rab­buh Man­sour Hadi around the crit­i­cal high­way, through which hu­man­i­tar­ian aid is de­liv­ered to the Ye­meni peo­ple.

Amanda Bry­don, hu­man­i­tar­ian pol­icy ad­viser at Save the Chil­dren NGO, ex­pressed con­cerns about fresh ten­sions in Ye­men.

“What we are see­ing with the fight­ing is [that] the crit­i­cal junc­tion at Kilo 16 is the artery to­ward Sana’a and other parts of the coun­try,” she told Al Jazeera.

Hodeida, she said, is a life­line for the rest of the coun­try, where over 80 per­cent of the coun­try’s com­mer­cial im­ports come through.

Backed by Saudi airstrikes, Emi­rati forces and pro-hadi el­e­ments launched the Hodeida of­fen­sive on June 13 de­spite in­ter­na­tional warn­ings that it would com­pound the im­pov­er­ished na­tion’s hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis.

Saudi Ara­bia claims that the Houthis are us­ing Hodeida for weapons de­liv­ery, an al­le­ga­tion re­jected by the fight­ers.

On Fri­day, Mo­hammed Hadi, a Hodeida res­i­dent, re­ported fierce bat­tles around the Kilo 16 route.

“The main road was blocked and there are some by-streets, but they are not safe to go through be­cause airstrikes tar­get any car in those streets,” he told the Mid­dle East Eye news por­tal.

He said pro-hadi forces had ad­vanced to­wards Hodeida while Houthi re­in­force­ments had ar­rived from the north and other parts of the city.

Mo­hammed al-boukhaiti, a Hodeida-based mem­ber of the Houthi po­lit­i­cal coun­cil, said Ye­meni fight­ers were still in con­trol of the Hodeida-sana’a high­way.

“The Ye­meni Army con­fronted the at­tack of the coali­tion and to­day Kilo 16 is un­der the con­trol of the army, but it is not safe for pas­sen­gers be­cause the airstrikes tar­get them,” he said.

Saudi Ara­bia and its al­lies launched a bru­tal war, co­de­named Op­er­a­tion De­ci­sive Storm, against Ye­men in March 2015 in an at­tempt to re­in­stall Hadi, a staunch ally of Riyadh, and crush the Houthis.

The West­ern-backed of­fen­sive ini­tially con­sisted of a bomb­ing cam­paign, but was later cou­pled with a naval block­ade and the de­ploy­ment of ground forces into Ye­men.

Un-an­sarul­lah talks

UN Spe­cial En­voy for Ye­men Martin Griffiths held talks with a Houthi del­e­ga­tion, led by spokesman Mo­hammed Ab­dul­salam, in the Omani cap­i­tal, Mus­cat.

Dur­ing the meet­ing, Griffiths was briefed on the Houthis’ rea­sons for their ab­sence from the lat­est round of the peace talks in the Swiss city of Geneva, Ye­men’s of­fi­cial SABA news agency re­ported.

The Mus­cat dis­cus­sions, the report said, also cov­ered “nec­es­sary mea­sures” needed for ne­go­ti­a­tions “as soon as pos­si­ble” be­tween Ye­men’s war­ring sides.

The Geneva peace talks failed af­ter Saudi Ara­bia pre­vented the Houthi del­e­ga­tion from join­ing the Geneva talks, giv­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Hadi ad­min­is­tra­tion to leave the Swiss city.

The last round of Ye­men talks were held in Kuwait in 2016 but they col­lapsed af­ter the Saudi-backed del­e­ga­tion also left them.

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