United Nations warns of Yemen port 'disaster'

Yemeni pro-government forces gather on a highway on the eastern outskirts of Hodeida

Yemeni pro-government forces gather on a highway on the eastern outskirts

Amnesty's Lynn Maalouf said Monday that "as the battle for control of Hodeida intensifies, both sides seem intent on eviscerating the laws of war and disregarding the protected status of even the most vulnerable civilians".

Three military officials told AFP that pro-government forces were "ordered" to stop their assault against the Iran-linked Huthi rebels until further notice, but would resume operations should the insurgents attack.

The Huthis, who seized Hodeida in a 2014 takeover that included the capital, on Tuesday accused the government of the attacks on the port via their Al-Massirah TV.

Asked by AFP, coalition spokesman Saudi Colonel Turki al-Maliki said he was going to check.

The destruction of the port of Hodeida, a vital lifeline for millions of starving civilians in Yemen, would "create a catastrophic situation", Antonio Guterres told French radio station France Inter.

The Yemeni troops have advanced to near the city center in Hodeidah in the past few days, fighting with Houthi rebels sparking nonstop street-to-street clashes that killed almost 600 people.

But four other port employees told AFP on condition of anonymity that a rebel commander, along with three of his guards, had been killed in Monday's bombing.

The Saudi-led coalition has also come worldwide pressure to end the conflict following the killing of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi in his country s consulate in Istanbul on October 2.

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During the past few days, the government forces made significant progress in Hodeidah despite a large number of landmines and booby-trapped buildings, in addition to professional Houthi snipers who took positions on buildings inside residential neighborhoods, according to local military sources.

Residents reported on Tuesday that the fighting had slowed overnight, and rebel media did not report any new fighting.

In a Friday statement, Yemen's internationally recognized government based in the southern city of Aden said its forces are advancing toward the north and west of Hodeida and across all fronts with cover from the coalition.

"We are not hearing explosions like we have for the past two weeks".

World Food programme (WFP) executive director David Beasley arrived in Yemen on Sunday to assess food security in the impoverished Arab country that has been pushed to the brink of starvation by more than three years of war.

United Nations mediator Martin Griffiths - whose efforts to host negotiations in Geneva in September failed - met with Yemeni Foreign Minister Khaled al-Yamani in Riyadh on Monday for talks on reviving the peace process, Saudi Arabia s state news agency reported.

In a statement released by its embassy in Washington on Friday, Saudi Arabia said it had chose to request an end to United States aerial refuelling for its operations in Yemen because it could now handle it by itself.

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