14 Huthis killed in clashes with Yemeni government forces
HODEIDAH - At least 14 Huthi rebels have been killed in clashes with Yemeni government forces in the port city of Hodeidah according to sources on Thursday, with another 28 said to be injured.
Iran-backed rebels had been trying to infiltrate several government bases in districts of the western province before meeting resistance from UN-backed government forces.
The battle comes hours after the Yemeni government called on Washington to designate Huthi rebels a terrorist organisation.
"We call on US House to designate Huthis militia as a terrorist org as one of Iran's dangerous arms in region, for killing, abduction and displacement for millions of Yemenis,” said Yemen’s minister of information, Moammar al-Eryani.
Eryani accused both Huthi and Iranian forces of targeting neighbouring countries by "planting marine mines" and launching "booby-trapped boats" in an attempt to threaten international shipping.
The United States had recently said that they would halt humanitarian assistance to Huthi-controlled areas of Yemen if the rebels refused to cooperate and continued to install obstacles to aid delivery.
“This decision is a last resort that follows more than a year of advocacy and diplomatic engagement calling on the Huthis in Yemen to respect humanitarian principles and allow the provision of needs-based humanitarian assistance without interference,” a USAID spokesperson said.
Huthis dashed away any hopes of a permanent ceasefire by continuing their onslaught against government-held provinces at the end of February, which triggered a chain of violence that put an end to five months of relative calm and optimism.
De-escalation and good faith from the government's side is often met with opportunism on part of the Huthis, who claimed responsibility for attacks against Saudi oil tankers in September, despite many believing the missiles were actually launched from Iran.
Huthi forces control Hodeidah’s port and city centre, while government forces hold the city’s south and east.
Yemen’s ongoing war has devastated the country, with 24 million people, an estimated 80 percent of the population, requiring humanitarian assistance.
The government has been battling the Iran-backed rebels since 2015 when Huthis took over capital Sanaa.
The Yemeni government is backed by Saudi Arabia and the UAE.