Ye­men clashes kill dozens as Red Cross aid de­layed

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY NA­BIL HAS­SAN AND FAWAZ AL- HAIDARI

Fierce clashes raged Mon­day be­tween rebels and loy­al­ist fighters in south­ern Ye­men, leav­ing nearly 100 dead in 24 hours, as the Red Cross faced de­lays to ur­gently needed aid de­liv­er­ies.

Re­lief work­ers have warned of a dire sit­u­a­tion in the im­pov­er­ished Ara­bian Penin­sula state, where a Saudi-led coali­tion is wag­ing an air war on Iran-backed Huthi Shi­ite rebels.

At least 53 peo­ple have been killed in 24 hours of fight­ing be­tween rebels and fighters loyal to Pres­i­dent Abedrabbo Man­sour Hadi in the main south­ern city Aden, med­i­cal and army sources said on Mon­day.

Seven­teen civil­ians were said to be among the dead.

Wit­nesses said that clashes con­tin­ued on Mon­day as rebels tried to seize a port in the city, which sits on an ex­tinct vol­cano jut­ting out into the sea.

In the town of Daleh, about 120 kilo­me­ters (75 miles) north of Aden, at least 19 Huthi rebels and 15 proHadi mili­ti­a­men were killed in fight­ing overnight, lo­cal of­fi­cials said.

Seven more peo­ple were killed in clashes in the south­ern prov­ince of Abyan, where Hadi loy­al­ists have be­sieged the base of a rebel army brigade loyal to ex-Pres­i­dent Ali Ab­dul­lah Saleh, who is ac­cused of back­ing the Huthis.

Hadi, who is backed by the United Na­tions as Ye­men’s le­git­i­mate leader, took refuge in Aden in Fe­bru­ary af­ter the Huthis, who hail from the moun­tain­ous north, seized power in the cap­i­tal Sanaa.

Aid Flight ‘prob­lems’

Hadi fled to Saudi Ara­bia last month as rebels ad­vanced on his south­ern strong­hold, prompt­ing the mil­i­tary cam­paign by the Saudi-led coali­tion, now in its 12th day.

Ye­men, strate­gi­cally lo­cated near key ship­ping routes and bor­der­ing oil-rich Saudi Ara­bia, is sink­ing deep- er into a multi-sided civil con­flict.

The fight­ing has drawn in an ar­ray of armed groups in­clud­ing the Huthis, pro-Hadi mili­tia, army units loyal to Saleh, south­ern sep­a­ratists, Sunni tribes and Al-Qaeda mil­i­tants.

The Red Cross has ap­pealed for an im­me­di­ate truce to fa­cil­i­tate aid de­liv­er­ies and al­low peo­ple to seek wa­ter, food and med­i­cal as­sis­tance.

It has been try­ing to fly emer­gency sup­plies into Sanaa but the plane is still stuck on the tar­mac.

“We have a cargo plane with med­i­cal sup­plies which is ready to go,” Si­tara Jabeen, a spokes­woman for the In­ter­na­tional Com­mit­tee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Geneva, told AFP.

The Red Cross is also try­ing to deploy a team of sur­geons to Aden, but says it is still await­ing au­tho­riza­tions from all sides in the fight­ing.

It has called for all land, air and sea routes to be im­me­di­ately opened to al­low the de­liv­ery of 48 tonnes of med­i­cal sup­plies and sur­gi­cal kits the or­ga­ni­za­tion has ready to treat the 2,000 to 3,000 peo­ple who have been wounded in the fight­ing.

Pak­istan Stand­ing By

An AFP pho­tog­ra­pher at Sanaa air­port re­ported that three In­dian air­craft and one Rus­sian plane landed in the cap­i­tal on Mon­day to evac­u­ate their cit­i­zens.

Rus­sia pre­sented a draft res­o­lu­tion to the U.N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil on Satur­day call­ing for a hu­man­i­tar­ian pause in the Saudi-led air war.

Riyadh has as­sem­bled a coali­tion of five Gulf monar­chies, Egypt, Jor­dan, Morocco and Su­dan to wage air raids on the Huthis.

Pak­istan said on Mon­day that it had been asked by Saudi Ara­bia to con­trib­ute air­craft, ships and ground troops to Op­er­a­tion De­ci­sive Storm.

De­spite close ties with Riyadh, Pak­istan has so far held back from join­ing the of­fen­sive, say­ing it does not want to get in­volved in any con­flict that would in­flame sec­tar­ian ten­sions.

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