With Hodeidah airport liberated, Saudi Arabia-led coalition accuses Houthis of targeting civilians

Updated 21 June 2018
0

With Hodeidah airport liberated, Saudi Arabia-led coalition accuses Houthis of targeting civilians

  • UAE commander confirms Hodeidah airport in Yemen is liberated
  • Houthis have been accused of breaking international law by targeting civilians

JEDDAH: Fighting spread to civilian areas of Hodeidah on Wednesday as coalition forces drove toward the port area after driving the last Iran-backed Houthi militias out of the city’s airport. 

Coalition spokesman Col. Turki Al-Maliki said they had fully recaptured the airport and were now destroying nearby Houthi fortifications. He accused the group of placing tanks inside residential areas.

“Hodeidah port is operating as normal and the movement of ships is normal,” Al-Maliki said. “We have humanitarian and development plans for when we liberate the city.”

Many civilians are now fleeing the city. “The streets are almost empty, deserted,” one said, with most heading for Sanaa, Raymah and Wusab, in Houthi-controlled areas inland.

A Coalition commander also confirmed the liberation of Hodeida airport in a video posted by UAE state news agency WAM.

“The airport was completely cleared, Thank God, and is under control,” the coalition commander for the Red Sea coast, Abdul Salaam Al-Shehi said speaking in Arabic in the video posted on Twitter.

 

 

Though the coalition has pledged to try to avoid battles in crowded urban neighborhoods, the Houthis were well dug into Hodeidah to protect the key supply line to the core northern territory they control, including the capital, Sanaa.

Most humanitarian aid to Yemen comes through Hodeidah port, but it is also a conduit for the supply of weapons and ammunition from Iran to the Houthi militias, including missiles used to target Saudi Arabia. 

The UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash, said the “liberation of Hodeidah is the beginning to ending the war."

“The choice in Yemen is between the state and militia, between order and violence, between peace and war,” he said.

At least 156 Houthis and 28 soldiers were killed in the fight for the airport, according to Hodeidah hospital sources. That raised the death toll in the week-old battle for the city to 348. No civilian casualties have yet been confirmed.

On June 13, Yemen’s army and its coalition allies launched their offensive to clear Hodeidah of rebel fighters who have held it since 2014. The airport is disused but housed a major Houthi base just inland from the coastal road into the city from the south.

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.


Far behind in polls, Israel’s Livni quits politics

Updated 5 min 28 sec ago
0

Far behind in polls, Israel’s Livni quits politics

  • Livni, who gained international recognition in part thanks to her past role as a negotiator with the Palestinians, also said she was bringing her Hatnua party to an end
  • She had recently helped lead Israel’s main opposition, the center-left Zionist Union alliance, but a split in January ended the arrangement that also included the Labour party

TEL AVIV: Former Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni, whose party has trailed far behind in polls ahead of April 9 elections, announced Monday she was retiring from politics.

Livni, who gained international recognition in part thanks to her past role as a negotiator with the Palestinians, also said her Hatnua party would not run in the elections.

The 60-year-old said in a statement before journalists in Tel Aviv she was bringing her party to “an end ... knowing I did all I could for my beloved state and to unite the forces that would fight for it. It’s not up to me any more.”

Livni, who also previously served in the Mossad spy agency, narrowly missed out on becoming prime minister after 2009 elections.

She had recently helped lead Israel’s main opposition, the center-left Zionist Union alliance, but a split in January ended the arrangement that also included the Labour party.

Labour party leader Avi Gabbay dramatically announced then that he would no longer partner with Livni as she sat stone-faced next to him.

While the Zionist Union won the second-most seats in the last general election in 2015, it more recently tumbled in opinion polls.

Livni sought to mount a campaign for April 9 elections outside the Zionist Union, but struggled to gain any traction or form the large alliance she sought.

Labour and Gabbay have also faltered in opinion polls.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is likely to remain premier after the elections, polls consistently show, despite a series of corruption investigations into his affairs.

The attorney general is however expected to announce in the coming weeks whether he intends to indict Netanyahu, and an announcement before the elections could shake up the campaign.

The right-wing prime minister’s main challenger is seen as former military chief of staff Benny Gantz and his centrist Israel Resilience party.