Aden: The Saudi-led coalition said pro-government forces in Yemen launched a new offensive on Monday night against the Al Houthi-held port city of Hodeida, after an 11-week pause during UN efforts to hold peace talks.
“A military operation to liberate Hodeida and its port has begun on multiple fronts,” a senior coalition official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Brigadier General Ali Al Tunaiji, the commander of coalition forces on Yemen’s west coast, confirmed the operation in remarks to WAM, the UAE’s official news agency.
He added the military operation enabled them to control Kilo 7 and Kilo 10 areas, while reinforcing troops in Kilo 16 and cutting the key Sana’a-Hodeida supply line for the militia. He said dozens of Al Houthi militia fighters were killed and captured, including field, operations and mobilisation commanders. Other beleaguered Al Houthi fighters surrendered, making way for the coalition and resistance forces to retake new positions from Al Houthis.
Pro-government forces launched air raids against militia positions in and around the city of 600,000. Residents told AFP they had heard explosions.
The coalition accuses the Tehran-aligned Al Houthi militia of smuggling arms from Iran through Hodeida and has imposed a partial blockade on the port, which the militia seized in 2014.
In June, it launched a major operation to retake both the city and its port, the entry point of most of the impoverished country’s imports and aid.
The troops, backed by coalition air strikes, have retaken a number of towns across Hodeida province.
The coalition in July announced a temporary ceasefire in Hodeida to give a chance to UN-brokered peace talks.
The UN’s Yemen envoy, Martin Griffiths, left the Yemeni capital Sana’a on Tuesday, ending a three-day trip without a public statement.
Griffiths is pushing for new peace talks after proposed negotiations between Al Houthis and government fell apart in Geneva earlier this month when militia delegates failed to show up.
Saudi Arabia and its allies intervened in 2015 in the conflict between Al Houthis and embattled Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, whose government is recognised by the United Nations.
The United Nations on Monday announced it was working to open a humanitarian air bridge to transport Yemeni cancer patients for treatment, a move criticised by the legitimate government.