62 killed as Saudi-backed Yemeni troops push into Hodeidah

Source: Xinhua| 2018-09-11 02:52:14|Editor: yan
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SANAA, Sept. 10 (Xinhua) -- At least 62 people have been killed in escalating clashes and airstrikes around Yemen's Red Sea port city of Hodeidah since the UN-sponsored peace talks in Geneva collapsed, government and rebel sources said on Monday.

A government military source told Xinhua by phone that 15 soldiers had been killed and dozens of others injured in the clashes against Houthi rebels over the past two days.

Meanwhile, a Houthi source in the rebel-controlled Health Ministry in Sanaa said 47 members of his group died and dozens of others were wounded from what he called "Saudi-led coalition Apache airstrikes."

The government source said the troops are pushing deep around the rebel-held port city and have already advanced into near the "Kilo 16 road" to the east of Hodeidah airport.

Both sources spoke on condition of anonymity.

The Kilo 16 road is the main highway linking the port city and the rebel-held capital Sanaa.

The port city is the entry point of about 70 percent of the country's food, medicines and aid.

The talks in Geneva failed after the Houthi delegation refused to leave Sanaa, in a move that sparked a fierce military escalation around Hodeidah.

The coalition has paused its military actions in Hodeidah in July to support the UN envoy's peace efforts.

On Saturday, the UN Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths told a press conference in Geneva that the UN finally failed to manage to get the Houthi delegation to the talks after two days of delay.

Griffiths downplayed the collapse of the peace talks, telling reporters that he would visit Sanaa in next days to meet Houthi officials again.

In response, Chief of Houthi group Abdulmalik al-Houthi claimed that the UN had not allowed the injured Houthis to be transported on the same plane to Oman and did not guarantee a safe return of his delegation to Sanaa. He also accused the coalition of hindering the travel of his delegation to Geneva.

Both the UN and coalition did not comment on the Houthi claims.

According to Griffiths, the Geneva peace talks was set to discuss relevant confidence-building measures "so as to move the process forward."

The last UN-backed peace negotiation for Yemen was held in 2016 in Kuwait, which continued for several months but failed to achieve constructive results due to serious differences between the rival parties.

Yemen has been locked into a civil war since the Houthi rebels overran much of the country militarily and seized all northern provinces, including capital Sanaa, in 2014.

Saudi Arabia is leading an Arab military coalition that has intervened in the Yemeni war since 2015 to support the Yemeni elected government of exiled President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

The war has since killed more than 10,000 people, mostly civilians, and displaced around three million, triggering the world's most humanitarian crisis in the poor Arab country.