Yemen's Houthi leader calls for general mobilization for port city battle

Source: Xinhua| 2018-11-07 23:48:02|Editor: yan
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SANAA, Nov. 7 (Xinhua) -- Yemen's Houthi leader Abdulmalik al-Houthi on Wednesday urged his supporters for general mobilization to counter a major offensive launched by a Saudi-led coalition in Yemen's Red Sea port city of Hodeidah.

"I direct a call to all free men of our people to head for fronts to defend the port city," al-Houthi said in a televised speech aired by his group-run Al Masirah satellite TV channel.

"The battle is not a small one, but a big battlefield stretching 2000 km along the Red Sea coast," he said.

He downplayed last month's calls by the United States for the immediate resumption of the UN-backed Yemen's peace talks within a month.

"We have expected that there were preparations for a massive military escalation within a month...and that the U.S. calls for the resumption of the (Yemeni) peace talks were a bare green light for the military action," al-Houthi said.

During al-Houthi speech, Al Masirah TV flashed a breaking news alert reading: "the (Houthi) missile forces fired a short-range ballistic missile at a gathering of (coalition) invaders in Hodeidah's western coast."

There were no comments yet by the government side on the rebel attack.

Earlier the day, the Yemeni internationally-recognized government troops backed by the Saudi-led coalition airstrikes recaptured more roads leading into the Houthi-held port city and further encircled the Houthi rebels.

The escalation began last week, just a day after the UN Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths welcomed the calls by the U.S. and Britain on Oct. 30 for "the immediate resumption of the Yemeni political process and measures to reach a cessation of hostilities in Yemen within a month."

"We remain committed to bringing the Yemeni parties to the negotiation table within a month," Griffiths said in a statement, stressing that "there can be no military solution to the Yemeni conflict."

The Saudi-led coalition had massed thousands of troops into the southern edges of Hodeidah following the collapse of Geneva talks on Sept. 8 after the Houthis refused to attend, claiming that the UN did not guarantee the safe return of the their delegation.

Two previous peace talks in Switzerland and Kuwait in 2016 brokered by the UN also collapsed.

The city's port is the main entry point of about 70 percent of imports and aid to the country's northern populated cities under the Houthi control.

Yemen's war has so far killed more than 10,000 people and displaced three million others.

Saudi Arabia is leading an Arab military coalition that intervened in Yemen in 2015 to support the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi after the Iranian-allied Houthi rebels forced him into exile and seized much of the country's north, including the capital Sanaa.