Yemeni forces foil Saudi-led push to seize port before talks
Yemeni Armed Forces spokesman Brigadier General Yahya Saree said the army thwarted “all attempts by the enemy to penetrate and infiltrate the defenses" in the port city of Hudaydah.
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The counterattacks killed 113 of the enemy forces and injured 156 others, Yemen's al-Masirah television network quoted him as saying on Saturday.
Earlier this week, the Saudi-led coalition deployed some 10,000 forces as part of efforts to capture the key port city, which is seen as the main entry point for aid needed by millions in the war-torn country.
Saudi Arabia and its allies have launched a massive offensive to capture Red Sea city of Hudaydah over the past several months.
But they have faced stiff resistance by Houthi fighters and local residents who have been defending the Arab world’s poorest nation against the Saudi-led invasion which started more than three years ago.
According to the United Nations, at least 10,000 people have been killed since the Saudi-led war on Yemen broke out in March 2015.
However, a new report suggests that the real death toll is over five times higher than the UN figure, which has not been updated since August 2016.
According to a count by a nonprofit conflict-research organization, 56,000 people have lost their lives in Yemen since early 2016.
The number does not include those dying of malnutrition, or diseases such as cholera.
The death toll is soaring by more than 2,000 every month as the Saudi-led coalition intensifies military strikes on the Red Sea port of Hudaydah.
Saudi Arabia has intensified its efforts to capture the strategic port even as its staunch ally, the United States, has called for an end to the aggression.
Earlier this week, US Secretary of Defense James Mattis, called for a ceasefire in Yemen and for all parties to come to the negotiating table within the next 30 days.
“We have got to move toward a peace effort here, and we can't say we are going to do it sometime in the future,” he said during a discussion at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) in Washington.
The Saudis have been receiving arms and logistical support as well as bombing coordinates and aerial refueling, mostly from the United States, but also from its close European allies, the UK and France.
On Saturday, the United Nations children agency (UNICEF) said every 10 minutes, an under-five-year-old Yemeni child died of preventable diseases and severe malnutrition.
The children were dying from starvation and disease as trucks with life-saving supplies were blocked in Hudaydah -- which is under siege by Saudi Arabia and its allies, said Geert Cappelaere, Middle East director for UNICEF.
“Already 1.8 million Yemeni children are malnourished, and more than 400,000 of them suffering from severe acute malnutrition,” Reuters quoted him as saying.
The official made the remarks after meeting with families in Hudaydah and Sana’a.
Earlier, media reports showed that a seven-year-old severely malnourished Yemeni girl, whose picture recently further alerted the international community to the disaster-hit nation’s plight, had died amid an ongoing Saudi-led war on the country.
Amal Hussein's picture turned up in The New York Times last week, showing her lying on a bed at a health center in Aslam in the northwestern Yemen Hajjah Province, 144 kilometers (90 miles) northwest of the capital, Sana’a. Her mother, Mariam Ali, has told the paper that she died on October 26.