Ground combat and air raids intensified again on Monday around Hodeida, the strategic port of western Yemen controlled by the Houthis, but the Saudi-led coalition at war with the rebels assured that they would not seek escalation.
Yemeni pro-government forces told AFP that their troops were engaged on several fronts and that they were trying to advance in the eastern suburbs of Hodeida to the north to cut off the main supply route of the Houthi rebels, backed by Iran.
These same officials have reported intensive raids of coalition aircraft and helicopters on rebel targets, while a source in the coalition assured AFP that they were not "operations". offensive "to retake the port of Hodeida.
The fighting is no less deadly. According to two Hodeida doctors, the bodies of 74 Houthi fighters have been transported to two hospitals in the city in the past 24 hours.
Fifteen pro-government fighters were also killed in these clashes, according to Yemeni government medical sources.
Save the Children said Monday that its staff in Hodeida reported about 100 airstrikes over the weekend, "five times more than during the first week of October."
"This serious escalation around Yemen's largest port could put tens of thousands of children in the line of fire and further stifle the distribution of food and medicine in a country where we believe that extreme hunger and disease kill people in the country. average 100 children a day, "warned the humanitarian organization.
– "Precipice" –
Earlier, a coalition source said the anti-rebel alliance "strongly supports" the UN's efforts to restart the peace process, despite ongoing operations.
The two pillars of this coalition are Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Since last Thursday, fighting and air raids have been reported in the region of Hodeida, where pro-government forces have sent important reinforcements.
These are only deployments to "protect our troops and expand security perimeters in certain areas," said the coalition source who requested anonymity.
On Friday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for an "immediate" stop for "violence" in Yemen to prevent the country from falling into a "precipice" when half of the population is in a situation pre-famine.
UN mediator Martin Griffiths urged the belligerents to sit down at the negotiating table "within a month".
"The coalition is committed to bringing down hostilities in Yemen," the coalition source said, adding that "if the Houthis do not show up for peace talks, that could lead to a resumption of the offensive on Yemen." Hodeida. "
– American "Imposture" –
In the rebel camp, the tone remained warlike Monday. "The escalation will become a nightmare," said a senior political official, Mohammad Ali al-Houthi, calling for "resistance and confrontation."
This "escalation is proof of the deception of American statements," he said.
On October 30, while Saudi Arabia was on the defensive in connection with the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and US Defense Minister Jim Mattis called for a ceasefire in Yemen and the opening of peace negotiations within 30 days.
The analysis center Soufan said Monday that Washington was making a lot of "noise", under pressure from Congress, but that "concrete actions" were slow.
On Monday, London called on its UN Security Council partners to act quickly to promote a political solution in Yemen, the world's worst humanitarian crisis, according to the UN.
Nearly three-quarters of humanitarian aid entering Yemen transits through the port of Hodeida.
The United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) has urged "all parties" in conflict to cease hostilities, calling the country at war "hell on earth" for children.
Since 2015, Yemen has been ravaged by a war that has left some 10,000 dead and more than 56,000 wounded, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). But humanitarian officials believe that the actual toll of the victims is much higher.