39 fighters killed in Yemen

Yemeni pro-government forces flash the victory gesture as they arrive in Al Durayhimi district about nine kilometres south of Hodeidah international airport

Yemeni pro-government forces flash the victory gesture as they arrive in Al Durayhimi district about nine kilometres south of Hodeidah international airport

UN council urged for freeze on offensive Sweden yesterday called on the UN Security Council to demand an immediate halt to the Saudi-led coalition's offensive on a key port in Yemen, to allow time for talks to avert a humanitarian disaster.

"Despite the conflict, the port of Al-Hudeidah, which is the critical access point for the delivery of life-saving assistance to the people of Yemen, is still operational and WFP staff are still distributing food to the Yemeni people", Paisley said.

The port is also a lucrative source of revenue for the Houthis, who control most of Yemen's north since 2014.

The council added: "People in the governorate have reported heavy airstrikes along coastal areas and roads in districts south of Hodeida city".

Local forces trained and financed by the Emirati military clashed on the southern outskirts of the city with fighters loyal to the Yemeni rebel movement, the Houthis, that has controlled Hodeida for the last three years.

"It is the lifeline of the country", said Lise Grande, the top United Nations humanitarian official in Yemen, to my colleagues. Abdullah al-Rabeeah, the head of Saudi Arabia's King Salman Aid and Relief Centre, in a press conference Wednesday night sought to allay the fears of the global community.

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The port city is the main lifeline for food aid to Yemen.

Two Saudi and UAE aid ships were in the waters off Hodeida, coalition spokesman Turki al-Maliki told Saudi state media. The Iranian-aligned fighters rifled through a military ledger from the vehicle before chanting their slogan: "Death to America, death to Israel, damn the Jews, victory to Islam!"

The ground offensive south of Hodeida is led by the United Arab Emirates, a key ally of both Saudi Arabia and the USA military.

The council met behind closed doors at Britain's request following United Nations warnings of a looming humanitarian disaster from an all-out assault on Hodeida. And urban fighting could put countless civilian lives at risk, displace hundreds of thousands of people and disrupt efforts to alleviate Yemeni suffering. The Houthis, from a Shi'ite minority, deny being Iran's pawns and say they took power in a popular revolt and are defending Yemen from invasion by its neighbours.

In March 2015 Saudi Arabia and eight other mainly Sunni Muslim Arab states launched a military campaign to restore Mr Hadi's government after becoming alarmed by the rise of the Houthi group which they see as an Iranian Shia Muslim proxy.

The assault is a dramatic gamble by the Arab states, who insist that they can swiftly capture the port without a major disruption to aid supplies for a country already experiencing the world's most pressing humanitarian crisis. Currently, 8 million of Yemen's 28 million people are at risk of starvation, according to the United Nations and aid agencies.

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Instead, council members "reiterated their call for the ports of Hudaydah and Saleef to be kept open", said Russian ambassador Vassily Nebenzia, who holds the council presidency. The rebels have been raining ballistic missiles down on Saudi cities from across the border.

Debris from five missiles fired at Saudi Arabia by Yemen's Houthi group since July 2017 "share key design features with a known type of missile" manufactured by Iran and some of the components were manufactured in Iran, U.N. chief Antonio Guterres wrote in a confidential report to the Security Council.

An administration official acknowledged that the coalition would like the U.S.to get more involved militarily in the battle to free the port, but so far that has not happened.

A fresh Saudi airstrike on Yemeni city of Sa'ada has killed seven civilians including a woman.

Security officials and witnesses said Saturday that Houthi rebels had also attacked government forces in al-Faza and al-Gah towns on the western coast over the past two days, killing at least 16 troops and wounding at least 13 others, and cut off the road that links between al-Gah and ad-Durayhimi district, some 20 kilometres (12 miles) south Hodeida's airport.

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