Iran Condemns Offensive on Yemen’s Hudaydah

TEHRAN – Iran’s Foreign Ministry condemned an ongoing Saudi-led military attack on Yemen’s western port city of Hudaydah, voicing concern about deterioration of the humanitarian crisis in the war-stricken country.

In a statement on Thursday, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi strongly condemned the aerial and naval strikes by the Saudi-led military coalition on Yemen’s Red Sea port of Hudaydah.

Iran insists that the crisis in Yemen has no military solution and that the invaders must stop the war in that country, he said., according to Tasnim News Agency.

  “Such crimes (against Yemeni people) have ruined a flicker of hope for the ongoing political efforts and will further complicate the situation,” the Iranian spokesman deplored.

The warplanes and warships of Saudi-led multinational coalition pounded Hudaydah port for a second day on Thursday to seize the strategic port, which is home to 600,000 people and is controlled by the Houthi forces.

The port is the main route for essential goods into Yemen, where 22 million people are in need of humanitarian aid and 8.4 million face starvation, according to the United Nations, which says the figure could reach 10 million by year end.

Aid agencies have said the battle may exacerbate an already catastrophic humanitarian situation.

The UN has warned that in a worst-case scenario, the battle could cost up to 250,000 lives and cut off aid supplies to millions of people.

Hudaydah Port Operates Normally Despite UAE-Led Assault: Official

Press TV quoted Yemen’s Red Sea Ports Corporation as saying that the western port city of Hudaydah is operating normally despite the push to capture the strategic coastline, which serves as the main conduit for aid flow into the war-torn country, according to Press TV.

Yahya Sharaf al-Din, the corporation’s deputy chairman, rejected reports about a halt in the services of the Hudaydah port due to the UAE-led military offensive, which began on Wednesday.

 In the latest developments, Arabic-language al-Masirah television network reported early on Thursday that Saudi artillery attacks had killed two children and injured several others of the same family in the Hayran district of Yemen’s northwestern Hajjah Province.

Separately, al-Masirah reported that Saudi warplanes had dropped cluster bombs on Hajjah’s neighboring province of Sa’ada.

The Hudaydah assault is said to be the largest of its kind since the onset of the war on Yemen began in early 2015.

Latest media reports suggest fierce clashes in Hudaydah, which serves as serves as the entry point for 70 percent of the impoverished country's imports.

The UAE’s official WAM news agency also confirmed that the operation was ongoing “with the participation and the support, through land and sea and air, of the Emirati armed forces.”

However, the Houthis and allied armed forces managed to deal a heavy blow to the aggressors on the first day, targeting a UAE warship with a missile off the coast of Hudaydah in a counter-attack.

Houthi official Dayfallah al-Shami said during a Wednesday interview with Lebanon’s al-Mayadeen TV that Yemeni forces had foiled a sea landing by Saudi and Emirati forces close to the port city.

Four Emirati soldiers were further killed in Yemen on the first day of the operation.

Additionally, Yemeni army soldiers destroyed 12 vehicles belonging to the Saudi-led coalition in the al-Adayn region of Ibb province, al-Masirah reported.

The Yemeni forces also killed and wounded several Saudi troops and mercenaries in the al-Durayhimi district of Hudaydah province.

The United Nations Security Council is set to hold a closed-door meeting on the Hudaydah situation on Thursday, the second such session this week.

The UN special envoy for Yemen said he was holding talks on keeping the Yemeni port open to aid deliveries.

“We are in constant contact with all the parties involved to negotiate arrangements for Hudaydah that would address political, humanitarian, security concerns of all concerned parties,” Martin Griffiths said.

Meanwhile, the European Union's foreign policy chief warned of the “devastating” impact of the Hudaydah offensive.

“The latest developments will only lead to further escalation and instability in Yemen,” Federica Mogherini said in a statement.

The Saudi-led coalition claims that the Houthis are using Hudaydah for weapons delivery, an allegation rejected by the fighters.

Russia Concerned over Situation in Yemeni Port City of Hodeida

Moscow is also highly concerned about the offense on the Yemeni port city of Hodeida.

"News about an offensive on the Red Sea port of Hodeida, launched by forces loyal to Yemeni President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi with sea and air support from the Saudi-led coalition, cause serious concern," the statement reads. "These developments cause particular concern as Hodeida is an important transport and logistics center through which the largest part of food, medicines and basic necessities for civilians are brought to the country. If military activities in the area cut off this supply line, Yemeni civilians, who have been facing numerous predicaments, will find themselves literally on the brink of death and will have to make a terrible choice whether to die in bombing and shelling attacks or from hunger and diseases," the Russian Foreign Ministry said, according to Itar Tass.

The statement adds that such developments had led to numerous casualties on both sides. "It is hard to imagine how many of those taking part in the battle of Hodeida will be killed. According to information coming from the region, the first days of the operation resulted in hundreds of fatalities on both sides," the Russian Foreign Ministry noted, adding that "all this confirms our initial concerns that the Hodeida offensive will bring catastrophic consequences to the entire Yemen."

"We deeply regret that United Nations Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths’ request for additional time to prevent such a scenario was rejected," the statement said.

The ministry pointed out that the Hodeida offensive undermined prospects for finding a political solution to the Yemen crisis. "It is estimated that the hardest blow will fall on prospects for finding a political solution to the Yemen crisis, while we see no alternative to that, particularly as the United Nations’ has recently put forward a number of noteworthy ideas aimed at putting an end to the armed confrontation and bring the warring Yemeni parties to the negotiating table," the statement adds.