Saudi-led forces launch assault to recapture key port in Yemen
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The Saudi-led coalition backing the exiled Yemeni government launched a fierce assault Wednesday on the crucial port of Hodeida, the biggest offensive of the years-long war on the main entry point for food in a country already teetering on the brink of famine.
The attack aimed to drive out Iranian-aligned Shiite rebels known as Houthis, who have held Hodeida since 2015. But it could set off prolonged street battles that inflict heavy casualties. The fear is that a protracted fight could shut down Hodeida’s port at a time when a halt in aid risks tipping millions into starvation. Seventy percent of Yemen’s food enters via the port.
Four Emirati soldiers were killed in Wednesday’s assault, the United Arab Emirates’ state-run news agency said, but gave no details of how they died.
Aid groups warned of disaster. Robert Mardini, the regional director for the Red Cross, said the push on Hodeida “is likely to exacerbate an already catastrophic humanitarian situation in Yemen.”
The White House says President Donald Trump’s Mideast negotiating team will visit the region next week as it finalizes its as-yet undisclosed Israeli-Palestinian peace plan and will hold talks on deteriorating conditions in the Gaza Strip. The trip will come as officials say the Trump administration is near completion of the plan with an eye on a possible release this summer.
The National Security Council said Wednesday that the team will discuss “the next stages of the peace effort” and get ideas from regional leaders about “remaining questions the White House peace team has.”
No stop in Palestinian territories is planned, although the NSC said the itinerary may be expanded.
The U.N. General Assembly has approved a Palestinian-backed resolution blaming Israel for violence in Gaza after narrowly rejecting a U.S. demand to add an amendment condemning attacks on Israel by Gaza’s Hamas rulers.
The U.S. amendment was approved by a vote of 62-58 with 42 abstentions. General Assembly President Miroslav Lajcak declared that under U.N. rules a two-thirds vote was needed so the amendment failed. The assembly then voted on the Palestinian-backed resolution, which passed 120-8 with 45 abstentions.