RIYADH, June 14 (CIC) – As the operation to liberate the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah continues, the spokesperson for the Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen, Col Turki Almalki, assured that utmost care was being taken by the forces to avoid casualties of civilians who he said were being used as shields by the Iranian-backed Houthis.
Speaking to CNN in a live interview on Thursday, Col Almalki asserted that victory could be achieved “in the right way when we are implementing the law of armed conflict”.
Allaying concerns that Hodeidah could suffer further damage due to the military intervention, Col Almalki said: “If you look at the Hodeidah situation right now and compare it to the situation in Aden three years ago, it’s the same situation how the coalition liberated the interim capital Aden and the security and law were restored in the city.”
He said that the appalling humanitarian situation in Hodeidah was part of the Coalition’s consideration for the operation in the city.
“The airstrikes are on the Houthi elements south of the city. It cannot be an attack on the city, which is a congested one with 400,000 people.”
He also underlined that “civilians are not our target”… Civilian people and civilian objects are part of our considerations; we have the operational plan and we have another humanitarian plan”.
He assured that the Coalition was not planning to destroy Hodeidah. “We can liberate the city and we can liberate the part with minimal damage to the infrastructure. We are putting the accountability on the Houthis not to destroy the infrastructure – especially the Hodeidah port and the airport.”
The option for a political solution closed last week when the Houthis rejected the UN Special Envoy’s efforts to put together a plan to handover the Hodeida port peacefully.
“On the 4th of June, when our forces were almost 15 kilometres south of Hodeidah, we had given some space for the political effort,” he said, adding that calls by the Coalition for the United Nations to take over the administration of Hodeida Port were issued multiple times, all of which had been rejected by the Houthis.
The Colonel explained that the main reason for the Yemeni conflict was that the Houthis took power and “kidnapped” the legitimate government of Yemen.
He pointed out that it was not the Saudis’ or the Coalition’s decision to intervene in Yemen. The call rather came from the Yemeni government and “the Coalition is supporting the Yemeni National Army to achieve its objective”.
Colonel Almalki said that the Houthis did not have the support in the cities and villages they controlled, and many people were against the Houthis in Hodeidah.
The Coalition has an integrated and comprehensive plan with the Yemeni government, so that normal life can continue.
Col Almalki insisted that liberating the city and the port would bring advantages to the Yemeni people, and that the operations would continue until the objectives were achieved.