Clashes rage as coalition commits to peace

Cairo: The Yemeni army said Monday that its forces, backed by a Saudi-led Arab alliance, have made further advances in Hodeida as part of a new operation that started days ago to liberate the Red Sea city and its crucial port from Iran-allied Al Houthi militants.

Medics at two hospitals in Hodeida province said they had counted the bodies of a total of 74 militiamen and dozens of wounded. Sources at a military hospital in government-held Mokha, south of Hodeida, said 15 troops were killed over the same period.

The government forces captured major facilities in the eastern section of Hodeida city, including silos and flour mills after fierce fight against Al Houthis, the army said.

The pro-government force, known as “The Giants’ Battalions” said they inflicted heavy casualties and hardware losses on Al Houthis in the fight in east of Hodeida.

Fighting is also escalating around the Hodeida University compound in the south-west of the city.

Al Houthis are forcing private medical centres in Hodeida to treat for free their militiamen injured in battles as public hospitals find it hard to cope with the rise in casualty tolls, a medical source in the city told news portal Adan Al Ghad.

Fighting, meanwhile, was raging Monday near the Hodeida port through which most humanitarian aid and imports to Yemen go.

However, a source in the Arab coalition said the clashes were not “offensive operations”.

The source told AFP that the alliance, led by the UAE and Saudi Arabia, is “committed to keeping the port open.

The operation to regain rebel-controlled Hodeida began on Thursday amid international calls for Yemen’s warring sides to accept a ceasefire and opt for UN-sponsored peace talks.

Yemen has experienced a worsening humanitarian crisis since late 2014 when they deposed the internationally recognised government and overran parts of the poor country including the capital Sana’a and Hodeida.

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