Posts Tagged ‘Yemen’

Yemen pro-govt forces seize Hodeida airport from rebels

June 20, 2018

Emitari-backed Yemeni government forces seized Hodeida airport from Huthi rebels on Wednesday, the coalition said, in a major step towards retaking the key Red Sea port city.

“The airport was completely cleared, Thank God, and is under control,” coalition commander for the Red Sea coast, Abdul Salaam al-Shehi, said in a video posted by the United Arab Emirates’ official WAM news agency.

Last Wednesday, government forces launched an offensive to clear Hodeida of rebel fighters who have held it since 2014, raising UN concerns for vital aid shipments and commercial food imports through the city’s docks.

© AFP | Emitari-backed Yemeni government forces advance into Hodeida airport on June 19, 2018 in a major step towards recapturing the strategic Red Sea port city from Shiite rebels. .UAE-backed Yemeni government forces fought their way into Hodeida airport today, pressing an offensive that has seen some of the most intense fighting of a three-year war against Shiite Huthi rebels.

The airport is disused but housed a major rebel base just inland from the coast road into the city from the south.

It lies just eight kilometres (five miles) from the city’s port, through which three-quarters of Yemen’s imports pass, providing a lifeline for some 22 million people dependent on aid.

UN envoy Martin Griffiths held four days of talks in the rebel-held capital Sanaa in a bid to avert an all-out battle for the city but flew out on Tuesday without announcing any breakthrough.

The United Arab Emirates and other members of a Saudi-led coalition that intervened in support of the government in 2015 have accused regional arch foe Iran of using Hodeida as conduit for arms smuggling to the rebels. Tehran has denied the allegation.

AFP

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U.S. Senate passes defense bill, battle looms with Trump over China’s ZTE

June 19, 2018

The U.S. Senate passed a $716 billion defense policy bill on Monday, backing President Donald Trump’s call for a bigger, stronger military but setting up a potential battle with the White House over Chinese telecommunications firm ZTE Corp.

A sign of ZTE Corp is pictured at its service centre in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China.
A sign of ZTE Corp is pictured at its service centre in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China. PHOTO: STRINGER/REUTERS

The Republican-controlled Senate voted 85-10 for the annual National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, which authorizes U.S. military spending but is generally used as a vehicle for a broad range of policy matters.

Before it can become law, the bill must be reconciled with one already passed by the House of Representatives. That compromise measure must then be passed by both chambers and signed into law by Trump.

Considered must-pass legislation, the fiscal 2019 Senate version of the NDAA authorizes $639 billion in base defense spending, for such things as buying weapons, ships and aircraft and paying the troops, with an additional $69 billion to fund ongoing conflicts.

This year, the Senate included an amendment that would kill the Trump administration’s agreement to allow ZTE to resume business with U.S. suppliers, one of the few times the Republican-led Senate has veered from White House policy. That ZTE provision is not included in the House version of the NDAA.

While strongly supported by some of Trump’s fellow Republicans as well as some Democrats, the measure is opposed by the White House and some of its close Republican allies, who control the House as well as the Senate.

It could face a difficult path to being included in the final NDAA, especially if Trump lobbies the Republican-led Congress against it, as he is expected to do.

Republicans and Democrats have expressed national security concerns about ZTE after it broke an agreement to discipline executives who had conspired to evade U.S. sanctions on Iran and North Korea.

The U.S. government placed a ban on ZTE earlier this year, but the Trump administration reached an agreement to lift the ban while it is negotiating broader trade agreements with China and looking to Beijing for support during negotiations to halt North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.

Republicans Tom Cotton and Marco Rubio and Democrats Chuck Schumer and Chris Van Hollen, who led the Senate push for the ZTE provision, said in a joint statement after the vote that they were “heartened” by support, adding: “It is vital that our colleagues in the House keep this bipartisan provision in the bill as it heads toward a conference.”

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But the final NDAA could include only a much less stringent provision, included in the House bill, that would bar the Defense Department from dealing with any entity using telecommunications equipment or services from ZTE or another Chinese company, Huawei Technologies Co Ltd HWT.UL.

FOREIGN INVESTMENT RULES

The Senate version of the NDAA also seeks to strengthen the inter-agency Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which assesses deals to ensure they do not compromise national security.

The bill would allow CFIUS to expand the deals that can be reviewed, for example making reviews of many proposed transactions mandatory instead of voluntary and allowing CFIUS to review land purchases near sensitive military sites.

The Senate NDAA also includes an amendment prohibiting sales to Turkey of F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets made by Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) unless Trump certifies Turkey is not threatening NATO, purchasing defense equipment from Russia or detaining U.S. citizens.

Senators included the legislation because of the imprisonment of U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson and the purchase of the S-400 air defense system from Russia.

The measure also includes an amendment to bar the U.S. military from providing aerial refueling support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen unless Secretary of State Mike Pompeo certifies that Saudi Arabia is taking urgent steps to end the civil war in Yemen, ease the humanitarian crisis there and reduce the risk to civilians.

Shipbuilders General Dynamics Corp (GD.N) and Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc (HII.N) could benefit from the bill’s authorization of advance procurement of materials needed for the Virginia class nuclear submarines.

Reporting by Patricia Zengerle an Mike Stone; Additional reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Chris Sanders and and Peter Cooney

Reuters

Saudi-led coalition storms Yemen’s Hodeidah airport compound

June 19, 2018

Troops backed by a Saudi-led coalition stormed the airport compound of Yemen’s main port city Hodeidah on Tuesday after fierce battles with Iran-aligned Houthis fighting to defend their sole port, residents and Yemeni military sources said.

Hodeidah port's cranes are pictured from a nearby shantytown in Hodeidah, Yemen

FILE PHOTO: Hodeidah port’s cranes are pictured from a nearby shantytown in Hodeidah, Yemen June 16, 2018. REUTERS/Abduljabbar Zeyad

The capture of the airport would be an important gain for the coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) who have said they can seize the heavily defended city quickly enough to avoid interrupting aid to millions facing starvation.

“They have stormed the airport,” an anti-Houthi Yemeni military source told Reuters.

A resident also said the compound had been stormed.

“This is the first time we hear the clashes so clearly. We can hear the sound of artillery and machinegun fire,” the resident, who requested anonymity, told Reuters, adding that warplanes bombarded the airport earlier in the morning.

The Western-backed alliance launched the onslaught on Hodeidah seven days ago in order to turn the tables in a long-stalemated proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran that has compounded instability across the Middle East.

The upsurge in fighting has wounded and displaced dozens of civilians and hampered the work of aid groups in the port city, which is a lifeline for millions of Yemenis.

The United Nations says 22 million Yemenis depend on aid, and 8.4 million are on the verge of starvation.

UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said on Monday that the coalition was taking a measured approach to minimize risks to civilians, and allowing the Houthis an escape route inland to their bastion in the capital Sanaa.

Additional reporting by Maha El Dahan; Writing by Ghaida Ghantous; Editing by Robert Birsel

Reuters

UN says over 25,000 people have fled Yemen fighting at Hodeida and more expected

June 19, 2018

The UN spokesman said Monday that tens of thousands of residents have fled the fighting along Yemen’s western coastline where Yemeni fighters backed by a Saudi-led coalition are engaged in fierce battles with Iranian-backed Houthi rebels.

Stephane Dujarric, the spokesman for the UN Secretary-General, told reporters that about 5,200 families, or around 26,000 people, have fled the fighting and sought safety within their own districts or in other areas in Hodeida governorate.

“The number is expected to increase as hostilities continue,” he said.

The UN Security Council again reiterated its call for the rebel-held ports of Hodeida and Salif “to be kept open and operating safely” in a press statement issued after closed door briefings by UN Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths and UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock.

© Abdo Heider, AFP | Members of displaced Yemeni families who fled battles between government forces and Houthi fighters near the Hodeida airport stand on the balcony of a school used as temporary housing inside the city of Hudeida on June 17, 2018.

Russia’s deputy UN ambassador, Dmitry Polyansky, whose country holds the rotating Security Council presidency this month, told reporters that Griffiths confirmed the ports continue to operate.

Emirati troops, along with irregular and loyalist forces in Yemen, have been fighting against Houthis for Hodeida since Wednesday. Coalition warplanes rained missiles and bombs on Houthi positions near Hodeida airport, in the city’s south.

Very disturbing

The campaign to seize control of Hodeida threatens to worsen Yemen’s humanitarian situation, as Hodeida’s port is the country’s main entry point for most humanitarian aid.

“The situation is very disturbing,” Polyansky said. “We all hope that nothing terrible will happen further in Hodeida. That is our shared analysis of the situation.”

The offensive for Hodeida has faced criticism from international aid groups, who fear a protracted fight could force a shutdown of the city’s port and potentially tip millions into starvation. Some 70 percent of Yemen’s food enters via the port, as well as the bulk of humanitarian aid and fuel supplies. Around two-thirds of the country’s population of 27 million relies on aid and 8.4 million are already at risk of starving.

Griffiths, the UN envoy, arrived in Yemen on Saturday to try to avoid an all-out assault in Hodeida. He briefed the Security Council by video from Sanaa on his proposals to restart political negotiations to end the three-year conflict in Yemen.

The statement from Security Council members said they welcomed his briefing on the proposals, “reaffirmed their full support for his efforts and underlined that a political solution remained the only way to end the conflict in Yemen.”

Polyansky said it was very difficult to talk about a timeframe for the political proposals.

“The political moves that are being proposed are being supported by us … but the situation is now very volatile,” he said. “We hope that he will succeed. … but let’s wait some time and see what will come of it.”

(AP)

Date created : 2018-06-19

UAE’s Gargash: Arab coalition’s full control of Hodeidah only a matter of time

June 18, 2018

The Saudi-led coalition fighting Iran-aligned Houthis for control of Yemen’s main port city of Hodeidah will take a “calculated and gradual” approach to the battle, a senior United Arab Emirates official said on Monday.

Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said the military alliance led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE was taking into consideration a “fragile humanitarian situation,” avoiding civilian casualties in addition to military calculations.

Gargash, speaking to reporters in Dubai, estimated the number of Houthi fighters in Hodeidah at between 2,000 to 3,000. He declined to reveal the size of coalition forces but said they had “numerical superiority.”

He said that the Arab coalition’s full control of Hodeidah only a matter of time.

This image grab taken from a AFPTV video shows Yemeni pro-government forces firing a heavy machine gun at the south of Hodeida airport. (AFP)

Gargash added that the Hodeidah port is a “major artery” for weapons smuggling from Iran to the Houthis.

“The liberation of Hodeidah is a major step in freeing Sanaa,” the UAE minister said, adding that “the roads leading to the port are filled with mines.”

France is said to be helping the Arab coalition in demining the roads.

“We have opened the road from Hodeidah to Sanaa to allow the militias to flee without resistance,” Gargash said.

The UN envoy for Yemen carried a plan to halt fighting around the key aid port of Hodeidah where Houthi militia have been battling a regional coalition as he arrived Saturday in the militia-held capital Sanaa for emergency talks.

Martin Griffiths was expected to propose to militia leaders that they cede control of the Red Sea port to a UN-supervised committee and halt heavy clashes against advancing government troops backed by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

(With AFP – Reuters)

Arab News

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1323291/middle-east

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Yemen army offers safe routes for Hodeidah civilians — Iran looms large

June 18, 2018

“Unless they get the green light from their leaders in Iran they will never give up their weapons or surrender in peace and spare the innocent citizens in Hodeidah and the rest of the Yemeni territories under their control their atrocities.”

Houthi militants willing to put down their weapons would also be given safe passage, the army said. — The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said on Sunday that nearly 5,000 families have been displaced from Hodeidah province this month.

Forces backed by the Saudi-led coalition pushed their offensive to recapture Hodeidah. (AFP)

The Yemeni army said on Sunday it was ready to open safe corridors for civilians who want to leave Hodeidah.

Houthi militants willing to put down their weapons would also be given safe passage, the army said.

Fighting continued to rage around Yemen’s largest port as forces backed by the Saudi-led coalition pushed their offensive to recapture the city. Coalition jets bombed the airport as pro-government forces moved closer to dislodging the militants.

The UAE, a main coalition partner, said the operation was designed to help the UN special envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, to persuade the Houthis to withdraw.

“We are at a turning point, because as long as the Houthis hold Hodeidah, they will continue to impede the political process,” Anwar Gargash, the UAE minister of state for foreign affairs, said on Twitter. “We firmly believe that the liberation of Hodeidah will pull the Houthis back to the negotiating table.”

The people of Hodeidah did not want to be governed by “Iranian backed religious extremists,” he said. “We will continue to focus on our two main goals: To protect the flow of humanitarian aid and to protect civilians.”

The Yemeni military said about 500 Houthis had been killed in the battle for Hodeidah, which is a crucial aid supply line, but also a conduit for supplies of Iranian arms to the militants.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said on Sunday that nearly 5,000 families have been displaced from Hodeidah province this month.

Yemeni government spokesperson Rajeh Badi told Arab News the Houthi militias understand only the language of force.

He said they were not optimistic about the outcome of talks between Griffiths and the Houthi leaders.

“Unless they get the green light from their leaders in Iran they will never give up their weapons or surrender in peace and spare the innocent citizens in Hodeidah and the rest of the Yemeni territories under their control their atrocities,” Badi said.

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1323046/middle-east

Saudi-led coalition ‘frees’ Yemen’s Hodeidah airport, begins de-mining operations

June 16, 2018

Image result for Houthi, photos

Forces from the Arab Coalition entered the airport in Yemen’s main port city on Saturday, the coalition-backed Yemeni military said, in the biggest offensive of the coalition’s war against the Iran-aligned Houthis.

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Victory for the coalition in their first attempt to capture a strategic part of a well-defended city could put the Houthis in their weakest position since the conflict erupted three years ago.

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A defeat would also cut off supply lines to the Houthi-controlled capital, Sanaa, and possibly force the movement to negotiate.

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“Army forces backed by the resistance and the Arab coalition freed Hodeidah international airport from the grip of the Houthi militia,” the media office of the pro-alliance Yemeni military said on Twitter on Saturday.

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Troops have surrounded the main airport compound but have not seized it, a Yemeni military source and residents said.

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“We need some time to make sure there are no gunmen, mines or explosive in the building,” the military source said. The military’s media office said technical teams were de-mining the surrounding area.

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Fighting in the airport area led to the closure of the northern entrance of Hodeidah, which leads to Sanaa, residents said.

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That has blocked a key exit out of the city and made it more difficult to transport goods from the port, the country’s largest, to mountainous regions.

UN envoy lands in Hodeidah

The UN envoy for Yemen arrived in the militia-held capital Sanaa for talks on the key aid port.

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Martin Griffiths is expected to propose to militia leaders that they cede control of the Red Sea port to a UN-supervised committee to avoid further fighting with advancing government troops which are backed by the Arab coalition.

Seized entrance

Yemeni forces backed by Arab states seized the entrance to the airport in Yemen’s main port city on Friday, in an offensive against the Houthi militia.

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The swift advance was an important early success for the Yemeni forces, which launched the operation in Hodeidah four days ago and says it can liberate the city quickly enough to avoid interrupting aid to millions facing starvation.

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“We saw the resistance forces in the square at the northwestern entrance to the airport,” said a Hodeidah resident, referring to Yemeni allies of the coalition. Two Yemeni military officials allied to the coalition confirmed it.

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Yemeni forces tweeted that they had also seized the airport’s southern entrance, advancing down a main road toward the seaport.

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Residents in the city, controlled by the Houthis, said battles had been fought in the Manzar neighborhood, which abuts the wall surrounding the airport.

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“There have been terrifying bombing runs since the morning when they struck Houthi positions near the airport,” said fish vendor Ammar Ahmed.

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Apache attack helicopters hovered over Manzar, firing at Houthi snipers and fighters in schools and other buildings, said another Hodeidah resident, who asked not to be identified.

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Houthi militia had entered homes overlooking the main road to go onto the roofs. Dozens of Manzar residents fled to the city center on motorcycles, the resident said.

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Streets elsewhere in the city were empty despite the Eid holiday.

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“We are at the edges of the airport and are working to secure it now,” the Arab coalition said in a statement.

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“Operational priority is to avoid civilian casualties, maintain the flow of humanitarian aid, and allow for the UN to press the Houthis to evacuate the city.”

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“I urge all parties to the conflict to meet their obligations to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure and take active steps to respect international humanitarian law,” said David Beasley, executive director of the UN World Food Programme.

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Liberating Hodeidah would give the Arab coalition the upper hand in the war, which it has fought since 2015 to restore the internationally recognized government led by President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. But a successful operation would require swiftly liberating a city of 600,000 people, without inflicting damage that would destroy the port.

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1321981/middle-east

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French special forces on the ground in Yemen

June 16, 2018

French special forces are present on the ground in Yemen with forces from the United Arab Emirates, French newspaper Le Figaro reported on Saturday, citing two military sources.

The newspaper gave no further information about their activities. The Defence Ministry was not immediately available for comment, but its usual policy is not to comment on special forces’ operations.

A French parliamentary source recently told Reuters French special forces were in Yemen.

Forces from an Arab alliance entered the airport in Yemen’s main port city on Saturday, in the biggest battle of the coalition’s war against the Iran-aligned Houthi movement.

Image result for France, special forces, photos
File Photo

The French Defence Ministry said on Friday that France was studying the possibility of carrying out a mine-sweeping operation to provide access to the port of Hodeidah once the coalition had wrapped up its military operations.

The ministry stressed that France at this stage had no military operations in the Hodeidah region and was not part of the Saudi-led coalition.

France, along with the United States and Britain, backs the Arab coalition in the Yemen conflict and provides weapons to both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Reporting by Leigh Thomas and John Irish; Editing by Adrian Croft

Reuters

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Saudi-led coalition claim control of airport in Yemen’s port city of Hodeidah

June 16, 2018

Forces from an Arab alliance have seized control of the airport in Yemen’s vital port city of Hodeidah, the media office of the Yemeni military allied with the Saudi-led coalition said Saturday.

© AFPTV / AFP | Image grab taken AFPTV shows Yemeni pro-government forces firing a heavy machine gun at the south of Hodeida airport on June 15, 2018.

“Army forces backed by the resistance and the Arab alliance freed Hodeidah international airport from the grip of the Houthi militia,” the media office said on Twitter on Saturday.

It said technical teams were now de-mining the area.

The Saudi-Emirati coalition began an offensive to capture Hodeidah from the control of the Yemeni Shiite Houthi militia on Wednesday amid mounting international concerns over the humanitarian situation in the world’s poorest Arab nation.

Yemeni officials said dozens of pro-government fighters have been killed since the assault began, mainly from land mines and roadside bombs disguised as rocks or sacks of wheat. On the rebel side, bodies of Houthi fighters were strewn across the front lines.

‘Mouth of Yemen’

Aid workers have warned the assault on Hodieda’s port, known as the “mouth of Yemen,” could shut down the vital route for some 70 percent of Yemen’s food and humanitarian aid. Two-thirds of Yemen’s population of 27 million relies on aid and 8.4 million are already at risk of starving.

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The Saudi-led coalition accuses the Houthis of using the port to smuggle weapons and missiles from Iran. The rebels have been raining ballistic missiles down on Saudi cities from across the border. The port is also a lucrative source of revenue for the Houthis, who have controlled most of northern Yemen since 2014.

The United Arab Emirates’ minister of state for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, said that the battle over Hodeida is essential to break a stalemate in the civil war, which otherwise could drag on for years.

Seizing the port “means that the Houthis will no longer be able to impose their will at the barrel of a gun,” he said in a post on Twitter. “If they keep Hodeida and its revenues and its strategic location, the war will last a long time and (add to) the suffering of the Yemeni people.”

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@AnwarGargash

Depriving the Houthis of their control of Hodeida port, at the Yemeni government’s request, means that the Houthis will no longer be able to impose their will at the barrel of a gun.

Hodeida, home to nearly 600,000 people, is some 150 kilometers (90 miles) southwest of Sanaa, Yemen’s capital, which is under Houthi control.

Red Cross warnings

The Saudi-led coalition has imposed an air, sea, and land embargo on Yemen since March 2015, aiming to dislodge the Houthis from the territory they control, paralysing trade and access to the country. The coalition air campaign and Houthi bombardment have left more than 10,000 people dead and 2 million displaced, and devastated the country’s already fragile infrastructure, including the health sector, which has helped spawn a cholera epidemic.

In a series of tweets, the International Committee of the Red Cross said the people in Hodeida were “bracing for the worst,” and tens of thousands were expected to flee in the coming days, some for a second time.

“People live in slums in the outskirts surviving on bread crumbs they find in the garbage. With the little money they do have, they buy cooking oil in plastic bags – just enough to cook one meal a day,” the group said, citing the accounts of staffers.

France contemplates demining effort

Meanwhile, the US, which has backed the Saudi-led coalition with intelligence, logistical support and aerial refueling of fighter jets, has not publicly opposed the assault but has urged the coalition to ensure that humanitarian aid deliveries to the port continue.

Washington however rejected three requests by the UAE to increase its support to the coalition with logistics, intelligence, and mine-sweeping operations.

Marine Maj. Adrian Rankine Galloway, a Pentagon spokesman, said the US has continued to provide aerial refueling for coalition aircraft and intelligence assistance. That aid includes information on key civilian sites that should not be targeted in order to avoid civilian casualties.

“We are not directly supporting the coalition offensive on the port of Hodeida,” Rankine-Galloway said. “The United States does not command, accompany or participate in counter-Houthi operations or any hostilities other than those authorized” against al Qaida and Islamic State (IS) group militants in Yemen.

The request for mine sweepers was diverted to France, which said it was considering minesweeping in Hodeida after the end of military operations there.

“Its purpose would be to facilitate the safe transport of humanitarian aid to the city’s population,” the French Defense Ministry said in a statement.

The rebels have planted thousands of land mines and roadside bombs on the outskirts of the airport that have killed dozens of coalition-backed fighters, Yemeni officials said.

“Nearly 95 percent of the causalities are because of land mines and roadside bombs,” said a medical official, who like the others spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak to the press.  He shared pictures of land mines and roadside bombs that were disguised as rocks and sacks of wheat.

The Conflict Armament Research Center said earlier that the bombs are similar to those used by the Iranian-backed Hezbollah in southern Lebanon and by insurgents in Iraq and Bahrain.

Human Rights Watch urged the UN Security Council on Friday to warn the warring parties that they will face sanctions if they fail to provide civilians access to desperately needed aid.

In the face of international concerns over the humanitarian situation, the UAE said on Friday that it would begin sending aid by air and sea to Hodeida, the state-run WAM news agency said. At least 10 UAE ships carrying 13,500 tons of food and aid, as well as three flights, were planned for Hodeida, it said.

Parts of missiles fired at Saudi Arabia came from Iran — UN chief

June 15, 2018

Debris from five missiles fired at Saudi Arabia by Yemen’s Houthi group since July 2017 “share key design features with a known type of missile” manufactured by Iran and some of the components were manufactured in Iran, UN chief Antonio Guterres wrote in a confidential report to the Security Council.

However, the United Nations has not been able to determine when the missiles, components or related technology were transferred from Iran and if they violated U.N. restrictions, Guterres said in a biannual report on the implementation of U.N. sanctions on Iran.

The June 12 report, seen by Reuters on Thursday, is a further blow to U.S. efforts to hold Iran accountable over accusations it violated U.N. resolutions on Yemen and Iran by supplying weapons to the Houthis. In February Russia vetoed a western attempt to have the Security Council call out Tehran.

A placard showing a missile component recovered in Saudi Arabia reveals identity and logo of Iranian manufacturer Shahid Bagger Industries Logo after US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley unveiled previously classified information to prove Iran violated UNSCR 2231 by providing the Houthis in Yemen with arms during a press conference on December 14, 2017. (AFP file photo)

A proxy war is playing out in Yemen between Iran and U.S. ally Saudi Arabia. A Saudi-led coalition intervened in Yemen in 2015, backing government forces fighting Iran-allied Houthi rebels. Iran has denied supplying the Houthis weapons.

The coalition pounded Houthi positions in Yemen’s Hodeidah for a second day on Thursday during a military assault aimed at seizing the main port to prevent the Houthis from bringing in missiles from Iran.

Iran told Guterres in a letter that it “neither has a policy nor seeks to transfer arms or military equipment in Yemen or manufacture them therein.” Independent U.N. experts separately reported to the Security Council in January that Iran had violated a separate sanctions regime covering Yemen.

Most U.N. sanctions imposed on Iran were lifted in January 2016 when the U.N. nuclear watchdog confirmed that Tehran fulfilled commitments under a nuclear deal with Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia and the United States. But Iran is still subject to a U.N. arms embargo and other restrictions.

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An Iranian made ballistic missile is launched from Yemen by Houthi rebels into Saudi Arabia — Reuters file photo

Guterres said U.N. officials also examined arms and related materiel seized in Bahrain and an unmanned surface vessel laden with explosives recovered by United Arab Emirates forces.

“In both instances, the Secretariat is confident that some of the arms and related materiel it examined are of Iranian manufacture. However, it has found no indications of whether these items were transferred from the Islamic Republic of Iran after 16 January 2016,” he wrote.

The U.N. sanctions and restrictions on Iran are contained in a resolution that also enshrines the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew Washington from in May. European powers have been scrambling to salvage the deal.

Reporting by Michelle Nichols at the United Nations; Editing by James Dalgleish

Reuters and Arab News

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1321821/saudi-arabia