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Battles intensify near strategic port in Yemen

PortandTerminal.com, February 21, 2020

Yemen is the poorest country in the Arab region and the home to the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Continued fighting between Houthi and government forces make matters worse.

SANAA, YEMEN — A flare-up in violence near the strategic port of Hodeida in Yemen left at least 18 fighters dead over the past day, rebel officials said Thursday.

Fighting escalated overnight in the flashpoint town of Durayhimi, just south of the port, between Houthi rebels and Yemeni government forces.

Hodeidah, which has an active frontline on its eastern edge where the United Nations is trying to enforce a ceasefire and troop withdrawal, has become a disease-ridden hell on earth.

READ: Yemen’s Port of Hodeidah on frontline to fight outbreak of disease killing people

The Yemeni army fired missiles and shot down a Houthi drone, according to military officials with the interim government in Aden who spoke on condition of anonymity under regulations. According to the United Nation’s Security Council, the Houthi rebels now possess sophisticated drone technology.

READ: Are Houthi rebel drones really good enough to have crippled Saudi oil facility?

One woman was killed as government shelling struck a residential neighborhood, according to Houthi-run al-Masirah satellite TV.

The clashes threatened a shaky U.N.-brokered truce around the main port of Hodeida, which handles about 70% of Yemen’s commercial and humanitarian imports.

U.N. officials have repeatedly warned that military escalations around the port could disrupt the lifeline of humanitarian assistance to millions of civilians in need.

Houthi security officials said their fighters halted a major government assault on the rebel-held Durayhimi, killing dozens of troops that advanced toward the city center.

A wave of bombing damaged dozens of homes. As night fell Thursday, quiet returned to the front, as both sides regrouped in anticipation of more fighting.

READ: Yemeni oil tanker ‘threatens environmental disaster four times worse than Exxon Valdez’

Yemen’s conflict began with the 2014 takeover of the capital by the Houthis, who control much of the country’s north. A Saudi-led coalition launched a bombing campaign months later, determined to restore the government and oust the rebels.

As of November 2018, 6,872 civilians in Yemen have been killed and 10,768 wounded, the majority by Saudi Arabia-led coalition airstrikes, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

The actual civilian casualties are likely much higher than what is being reported. There are reports that at least another 35,000 people have been displaced since January 2020 alone with an additional 160 civilians killed or wounded.

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