Yemen’s Red Sea Ports Corporation says the western port city of Hudaydah is operating normally despite an Emirati-led push to capture the strategic coastline, which serves as the main conduit for aid flow into the war-torn country.
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.
The comments come a day after an Emirati-led offensive on Yemen’s Red Sea port city of Hudaydah went ahead despite stern warnings by the UN and international rights groups against the catastrophic consequences of such a military action.
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.