Pressures are being piled on Houthi rebels to reach a political solution to the 4-year conflict in Yemen, a spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition said Wednesday.
“The coalition is working at all levels to pressure the militias [Houthis] to accept the political solution,” Col. Turki al-Maliki said in statements cited by the Saudi-funded Al-Arabiya television channel.
Without elaborating, the spokesman said major developments will take place in the port city of Al-Hudaydah after capturing the city’s airport on Tuesday.
He went to accuse Houthi rebels of taking civilians in Al-Hudaydah as human shields.
“Houthis are preventing citizens from leaving the city and are using them as human shields,” he said.
On Tuesday, Yemeni government forces backed by the Saudi-led coalition captured Al-Hudaydah airport after deadly clashes with Houthi rebels.
Yemen’s internationally-recognized government (currently based in the port city of Aden) and its allies accuse the Houthis of using the city’s seaport and airport to smuggle weapons into the country from Iran.
Impoverished Yemen has remained wracked by violence since 2014, when Shia Houthi rebels overran much of the country, including capital Sanaa.
The conflict escalated in 2015 when Saudi Arabia and its Sunni-Arab allies — who accuse the Houthis of serving as proxies for Shia Iran — launched a massive air campaign in Yemen aimed at rolling back Houthi gains.
The following year, UN-sponsored peace talks in Kuwait failed to end the destructive conflict.
The ongoing violence has devastated Yemen’s infrastructure, including water and sanitation systems, prompting the UN to describe the situation as “one of the worst humanitarian disasters of modern times”.