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Yemen pro-govt forces seize main rebel Hodeidah roads

  • Published at 07:11 pm September 13th, 2018
Hodeidah-Yemen
A view of the gate of the Red Sea port of Hodeidah, Yemen August 5, 2018 Reuters

In June, the pro-government forces, led by the UAE, launched a major operation to retake both the city and the port of Hodeidah

Yemeni government forces, backed by a Saudi-led coalition, on Wednesday seized rebel supply routes into the key port city of Hodeidah, military sources said, days after UN-brokered peace talks failed.

Hodeidah province is a major battleground in the war between Yemen's Saudi-backed government and Houthi rebels linked to Iran, which has been accused of supplying weapons to the insurgents.

Abdulrahman Saleh Abou Zaraa, head of the brigade fighting the Houthis in the province, told AFP his forces had taken the insurgents' main supply route linking the port city to rebel-held Sanaa, known as Kilo 16.

The Saudi-backed forces also seized a second supply route around Hodeidah, known as Kilo 10, military sources said.

Roads linking the port city to Sanaa - both controlled by the Houthi rebels - are also used for the transport of imports and aid, most of which enter Yemen through the rebel-held Hodeidah port.

The Saudi-led coalition accuses the Houthis of smuggling arms from Iran through Hodeidah and has imposed a partial blockade on the port, which the rebels seized in 2014.

'No plans to take the city'

A military source in the brigade fighting in Hodeidah said Wednesday's operation aimed to cut off supplies to the rebels.

The government coalition did not have immediate plans to try to take the city, the source said.

Fierce clashes broke out Wednesday between the Houthis and pro-government forces on the east and south of rebel-held Hodeidah city, leaving dozens of fighters dead, according to military and medical sources.

Air strikes on Kilo 16 killed 11 people on Wednesday, seven of them rebel fighters and the rest civilians in a car, according to medical sources in Hodeidah.

Rebel TV channel Al-Masirah said air strikes killed seven people and wounded others, without giving further details.

In their first reaction to reports that they had lost control of routes, the Houthis said they foiled an attack near Kilo 16, adding there had been around 50 air strikes.

The United Arab Emirates, a key member of the regional military alliance led by Saudi Arabia, provides extra boots on the ground for Yemeni troops fighting in the south, including in Hodeidah province.

In June, the pro-government forces, led by the UAE, launched a major operation to retake both the city and the port of Hodeidah.

The troops, backed by coalition states' air forces, have retaken a number of towns across Hodeidah province but have not yet breached the city.

The coalition in July announced a temporary ceasefire in Hodeidah to give a chance to UN-brokered peace talks.

But on September 6, UN attempts to hold talks between Yemen's government and the Houthis were abandoned after the rebels refused to leave Yemen for Geneva.

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