Yemen’s Navy and Coast Defense Command says it is "fully prepared" to destroy any invading warships belonging to the Saudi-led coalition with missiles, a day after the invading military force launched an offensive against the flashpoint Red Sea port city of Hudaydah.
In a statement carried by Yemen's Arabic-language al-Masirah television network on Thursday, the command further said that the country’s forces, including those of the Navy, would fulfill their national and religious duty to defend the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Yemen against the enemy.
It further said that destroying an Emirati warship, employed by the Saudi-led coalition, with a pair of Yemeni missiles near Hudaydah a day earlier had been carried out in accordance with that duty, adding that the command’s forces could handle all kinds of challenges posed by the invading forces.
The command reiterated that there was no reason for civilian ships to be worried as long as they followed international maritime law, calling on them to sail twenty nautical miles away from the coalition’s warships as a guarantee for their safety.
Forces backed by the Saudi-led coalition on Wednesday launched an offensive against Hudaydah, aiming to take the city that has been controlled by the popular Houthi movement. The Saudi-led coalition claims that the movement is using the key port for weapons delivery, an allegation strongly rejected by the fighters.
The offensive comes as aid groups have warned that some 300,000 children risk death, injury and starvation as they are trapped in the port city, which is the main route for food to reach most Yemenis, 8.4 million of whom are already on the verge of famine.
The United Nations has already voiced deep concern over the coalition’s full-scale attack in Hudaydah.
The Hudaydah offensive is considered the largest battle of the three-year war in Yemen.
Attack on Hudaydah will be ‘catastrophic’: Russia
Meanwhile, Russia’s Foreign Ministry, in a statement, warned that "the offensive against Hudaydah risks triggering catastrophic consequences for all of Yemen.”
It added that the peaceful people of Yemen might find themselves “on the brink of death” if the invasion led to a siege of the port, as it serves as the entry point for 70 percent of the impoverished country's imports.
“They will face a frightening choice -- either to get killed in bombing and artillery strikes or die of hunger and disease,” the ministry further warned, adding that the assault would land a major blow to the “prospects of a political settlement of the Yemen crisis to which we still don't see an alternative.”
Later on Thursday, the UN Security Council is scheduled to meet for talks amid growing international concerns about the dire humanitarian situation in the war-torn country.
War on Hudaydah takes dozens of casualties: Medics
Medical sources in the Hudaydah battlefield claimed that heavy clashes between Houthi fighters, who defend the city, and the Saudi-supported forces loyal to Yemen’s former president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, killed at least 30 Houthi forces.
They further reported that at least nine pro-Hadi forces were also slain during the intense fighting, which took place some two kilometers from Hudaydah airport, south of the city.
Other reports said that Saudi-led coalition’s warplanes and Apache choppers were busy providing “continuous” air support to pro-Hadi militia, pounding different localities around the city.
‘Yemeni ballistic missile hits Saudi base in Asir’
An unnamed Yemeni military source told al-Masirah that the Yemeni army, backed by allied fighters from Popular Committees, targeted a Saudi military air base in the kingdom’s southwestern province of Asir with the domestically-manufactured short-range Badr-1 ballistic missile.
The report, citing the source, said that the projectile had hit the target with great precision.
The retaliatory attack came just a day after Yemeni forces hit a military base and an economic target in the kingdom’s southern province of Jizan with the same kind of missiles.
‘Yemenis killed nearly 500 Saudi-led troops last month’
A separate report by al-Masirah on Thursday said that Yemeni army forces, backed by Houthi fighters, had managed to either kill or wound 450 Saudi-led troops in Hudaydah coastal areas and the country’s northern frontiers in May.
It added that the Yemenis had killed at least 52 Saudi-led forces in frontiers and slain 70 others in western coasts.
Saudi Arabia and its allies launched the war on Yemen in March 2015 to install the former Saudi-backed Hadi regime.
The Yemeni Ministry of Human Rights announced in a statement on March 25 that the Saudi-led war had left 600,000 civilians dead and injured until then.
The war and an accompanying blockade have caused famine across Yemen. The United Nations says a record 22.2 million people are in need of food aid, including 8.4 million threatened by severe hunger.
The Saudi aggression has also taken a heavy toll on the country's facilities and infrastructure, destroying many hospitals, schools, and factories.
Since 2016, the impoverished nation has also been grappling with a deadly cholera outbreak, which has already killed thousands of people.
Several Western countries, the US and the UK in particular, are accused of being complicit in the aggression as they supply the Riyadh regime with advanced weapons and military equipment as well as logistical and intelligence assistance.
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