At least 20 people in the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah have been killed in air raids carried out by a Saudi and UAE-led coalition battling Yemen’s Houthi rebels, medical sources said.
The strikes on Thursday, which fell close to the city’s main public hospital, al-Thawra, hit the strategic city’s fishing port and fish market.
“The number of people killed in the two attacks has reached 20,” a doctor in the Red Sea city told AFP, with other medical sources putting the number of wounded admitted to hospital at 60.
Medical sources told the Reuters news agency that the death toll stood at 26, while the Houthi-affiliated SABA news agency put the number of fatalities at 30, adding that 50 others were wounded.
Yemeni government forces launched an offensive to retake the strategic port city earlier in June with the help of a coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
While the coalition has been able to retake Hodeidah’s airport from the rebels, its port remains in the hands of the Iran-aligned movement.
Hodeidah has been under the control of the Houthis since 2014, along with other west coast ports and much of northern Yemen.
The city’s seaport was responsible for delivering 70 percent of Yemen’s imports – mostly humanitarian aid, food and fuel – before 2015. Yet, the Saudis say that the Houthis, who reportedly generate $30m to $40m a month in revenue from the port, are using it to smuggle in weapons from Iran.
The war in Yemen, the region’s poorest country, started in 2014 after the Iran-aligned Houthi rebels seized control of the capital, Sanaa, and began pushing south towards the country’s third-biggest city Aden.
Concerned by the rise of the Houthi rebels, Saudi Arabia and a coalition of Arab states launched a military offensive in 2015 in the form of a massive air campaign aimed at reinstalling the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
Since then, more than 10,000 people have been killed and at least 40,000 wounded, mostly from Saudi-led air raids.
In retaliation, the Houthis have launched dozens of missiles at the kingdom. Saudi authorities say over the past three years 90 ballistic missiles were fired by the rebels.
Multiple rounds of United Nations-brokered peace talks have all failed to achieve any breakthrough.
SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies