The Battle for Al Hudaydah Intensifies
The military forces of President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi have intensified efforts to take back the Yemeni port city of Al Hudaydah from Houthis rebel control.
Hadi’s forces are backed by Saudi-led coalition airstrikes on Houthi positions in the city. Nearly 200 fighters have died in the battle of Hudayda since fighting escalated last week. In the past 24 hours, 27 Houthi fighters and 12 of Hadi’s soldiers have been killed on the outskirts of the city.
Houthi forces have reportedly lost ground in Hudaydah since the fighting escalated. However, Houthi Chief Abdel-Malik al-Houthi said he will never surrender to Hadi’s forces. Hudaydah, a Houthi-controlled port city, is extremely important to both sides and its control may determine the outcome of the Yemen War as well as the lives of millions of Yemenis suffering from the violence.
Up to 80 percent of Yemen’s humanitarian supplies, fuel, and commercial goods enter the country through the city’s port facility. The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) warned that an assault on Hudaydah could jeopardize the lives of people in the city and across Yemen.
The humanitarian group Medecins San Frontieres expressed fear that the Battle of Hudaydah puts at risk thousands of people living near the frontlines. Furthermore, save the Children has reported that a health facility it supports in Hudaydah came under attack, damaging a pharmacy with desperately needed medical supplies.
Houthi fighters are allegedly taking shelter in hospitals, putting innocent civilians at the risk of Saudi-led coalition airstrikes. The coalition said it does not intend to capture Hudaydah or the port, but its forces may attempt to encircle them and impose a siege before the end of the month.
Hadi and Saudi Arabia claim that Houthis receive weapons and other assistance from Iran through Hudaydah. If the Houthis lose Hudaydah, they may lose the war. There have been ongoing international calls to do more to limit civilian casualties in the three-and-a-half-year civil war that has killed more than 10,000 people and pushed Yemen to the brink of famine.
On Saturday, US President Donald Trump criticized the Saudi government for misusing weapons supplied by America, referring to the Saudi bombing of a school bus in Yemen that killed 51 people in August.
The Saudi campaign in Yemen has come under additional scrutiny since dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered in Istanbul’s Saudi consulate last month.