Houthi fire kills 15 civilians south of Hodeidah
No coalition or Yemeni government forces were stationed in the town at the time
Fifteen civilians were killed on Thursday when Houthi rebels opened artillery fire on the city centre of a town south of the Red Sea port of Hodeidah.
“The civilians were killed in the district of Al Tuhaiyta when the Houthi militia randomly pounded the centre of the city”, Khalil Al Zekri, a journalist in the area covering the battle for the Yemeni army told The National.
“Most of them are women and children".
He said the Houthis began heavy shelling of the city early Thursday morning and that it appeared to be deliberately aimed at civilians as no forces of the internationally-recognised government in Aden or the international coalition were deployed in the town.
The UAE-led offensive to liberate Hodeidah was placed on hold last month in order to give the UN time to negotiate the rebel withdrawal from the city.
UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths has engaged in months of shuttle diplomacy between Sanaa, Muscat, Amman, New York and now Washington in an effort to spare the city of Hodeidah a military battle between the government forces backed by the Arab Coalition and the Iran-backed Houthi rebels.
However, so far talks have yielded no tangible results with Houthis reiterating this week that they would hand over control of the crucial Hodeidah port to the UN but would retain oversight. The international coalition demands the complete withdrawal of the rebels.
On Wednesday night, UAE Minister of State for International Co-operation Reem Al Hashimy held talks in Washington with Mr Griffiths before heading to Congress to brief members on the Arab Coalition's humanitarian efforts to help restore the internationally recognised government and push for a political solution in Yemen.
“We are very keen on the special envoy role to put forward a peace plan for Yemen,” she said after the meeting with the UN official.
Updated: July 19, 2018 06:57 PM