UAE-trained ‘Giants’ assault force secures key road into Hodeidah

The coalition is supporting the Yemeni troops on the ground with fighter jets and Apache attack helicopters. (AFP)
Updated 08 November 2018

UAE-trained ‘Giants’ assault force secures key road into Hodeidah

  • Military officials said the Houthis had been firing mainly from elevated and rooftop sniper positions
  • Hodeidah, one of the last Houthi strongholds on Yemen’s western coast, was seized by the militia along with the capital Sanaa in 2014.

JEDDAH: Saudi-led coalition forces pounded Iran-backed Houthi militia positions in Hodeidah with airstrikes and a ground assault on Wednesday, and recaptured a major road leading into the city.

UAE-trained assault troops known as the Giants, backed by Apache attack helicopters, secured an urban area along 50th Street, which leads to the city’s key Red Sea port facilities about 5 km away.

Military officials said the Houthis had been firing mainly from elevated and rooftop sniper positions, and had now resorted to burning tires to obscure the line of sight of the helicopter gunships. Most civilians had fled the area, they said.

Dozens of fighters have been killed and hundreds wounded both sides since a renewed coalition offensive on the city began at the end of last week, following calls by the Trump administration for a cease-fire by late November.

The fighting has left bodies lying on the ground and inside burnt-out vehicles at the edge of the city, and several civilians have been killed by shelling in residential areas.

The Saudi-led coalition, which seeks to restore to power the internationally recognized Yemeni government, has been at war with the Houthis since March 2015.

Hodeidah is a key entry point for humanitarian aid to Yemen, but is also the major supply route to the Houthis for Iranian weapons and ammunition, including parts for missiles used to attack Saudi Arabia.

Migrant killed during Libya disembarkation: UN

Updated 11 min 8 sec ago

Migrant killed during Libya disembarkation: UN

  • ‘This was tragedy waiting to happen’: International Organization for Migrationspokesman Leonard Doyle
  • IOM demands ‘immediate action ... to put an end to the suffering of civilians in Libya, especially detained migrants’

GENEVA: A Sudanese man was shot and killed Thursday as he and other migrants returned to shore by the Libyan Coast Guard tried to resist being sent back to detention, the UN said.
The International Organization for Migration strongly condemned the incident and demanded that Libyan authorities investigate and bring those responsible to justice.
“This was tragedy waiting to happen,” IOM spokesman Leonard Doyle said in a statement.
“The use of live bullets against unarmed vulnerable civilians, men, women and children alike, is unacceptable under any circumstances and raises alarms over the safety of migrants and humanitarian staff,” he added.
The UN agency said its staff had been on site at the Abusitta Disembarkation point in Tripoli when as many as 103 migrants returned to shore resisted being sent back to Libyan detention centers.
When several migrants tried to run away from the guards, “armed men began shooting into the air,” and one migrant was hit by a bullet in the stomach, according to the IOM staff accounts.
“Despite immediately receiving medical aid on the spot by an IOM doctor and then being transferred to a nearby clinic, he died two hours after admission,” the agency said.
The man’s death, it said, stood as “a stark reminder of the grim conditions faced by migrants picked up by the Coast Guard after paying smugglers to take them to Europe.”
The UN and aid groups have warned that rescued migrants returned to Libya face rampant human rights abuses in both official and illegal centers in the war-ravaged country.
According to the UN, some 5,000 migrant women, children and men remain detained in inhumane conditions in Libya — more than 3,000 of them in areas of active conflict.
In June, an airstrike on the Tajoura detention center killed 53 migrants, including six children.
“That facility remains operational to this day, despite persistent calls to end the arbitrary detention of migrants,” IOM said.
“Alternatives to detention must be found,” it said, stressing that the “increasing reports of abuse and human trafficking from detention centers are truly alarming.”
IOM demanded “immediate action ... to put an end to the suffering of civilians in Libya, especially detained migrants.”