Yemen forces seize hospital in Hodeida
hodeida — Yemeni government forces pressed further into the strategic port city of Hodeida, seizing its main hospital in heavy fighting on Saturday, as their Saudi-led coalition and Washington agreed to end US refuelling support.
A loyalist official said mortar rounds were “falling like rain” in the streets as troops weathered rebel-laid mines and snipers to take control of the main hospital in the city of some 600,000 people.
The rebels have put up fierce resistance to the loyalist advance towards the city’s vital docks, which are the point of entry for 80 per cent of Yemen’s commercial imports and nearly all UN supervised humanitarian aid. Yemeni officials said on Saturday that pro-government forces had captured the May 22 Hospital.
Amnesty International had accused the Houthis of “deliberate militarisation” of the facility after they posted snipers on its roof. —
Recently the Kingdom and the coalition have increased its capability to independently conduct inflight refuelling in Yemen
Saudi Press Agency
dubai — A refuelling arrangement between the United States and the Saudi-led coalition was ended on Saturday.
The move came as warplanes pounded the key strategic port city of Hodeida.
Pentagon chief Jim Mattis said he supported Saudi Arabia’s “decision” after the official Saudi Press Agency said the coalition asked for the “cessation of inflight refuelling support” from the United States.
“Recently the Kingdom and the coalition has increased its capability to independently conduct inflight refuelling in Yemen,” the SPA said.
“As a result, in consultation with the United States, the coalition has requested cessation of inflight refueling support for its operations in Yemen.” Mattis said: “We support the decision by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.” The Pentagon had provided refueling capabilities for about 20 per cent of coalition planes flying sorties over Yemen.
The Houthi rebels on Friday launched barrages of mortar fire as they battled to slow an advance by pro-government forces deeper into the port city of Hodeida, military sources said.
Their chief has vowed his troops would never surrender despite being vastly outnumbered, shelled government positions in the south of the Red Sea city, loyalist officials said. But despite the “intense attacks”, loyalist forces made fresh advances in eastern sectors of Hodeida.
Over one week into the renewed offensive, civilians reported relentless air strikes, low-flying jets and Apache helicopters, mortars and missiles on the outskirts of the city and within five kilometres of its strategic port, the Norwegian Refugee Council said in a statement.
The Iran-backed rebels said their fighters had cut off government supply routes in four sectors of Hodeida province, although there was no confirmation from the loyalist
side. On Friday medical sources said that 110 Houthi rebels and 22 pro-government forces had been killed in 24 hours of violence, bringing to at least 382 the number of combatants killed since the battle for Hodeida intensified on November 1.
Backed by Saudi air raids, loyalist troops for the first time entered residential neighbourhoods on Thursday, using bulldozers to remove concrete road blocks installed by the rebels. —