Yemen's Houthi leader calls for mass mobilization, signals failure of UN peace efforts

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Saudi has accused the Houthis of using the port to smuggle Iranian weapons. Both Houthis and Iran denied the accusation.

In a statement carried by Houthi-controlled Saba news agency late on Saturday, al-Houthi accused the U.S.-backed Arab military coalition of "backing away from deals that mediated by UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths to avoid Hodeidah port city from an imminent major offensive planned by the coalition."

The coalition military attack on Tuhyata came after a four-day pause declared by the coalition leadership to support the UN envoy's efforts.

Hodeidah is the single most important point of entry for food and basic supplies to Yemen's northern provinces controlled by Houthis, including the capital Sanaa.

The coalition intervened in Yemen's conflict in March 2015 to roll back Iran-allied Shiite Houthi rebels and reinstate Hadi.

Al-Houthi's reaction came two days after the coalition resumed its military action south of Hodeidah, in which the coalition forces launched a major attack to recapture Tuhyata district.

On Wednesday, Griffiths left the rebel-held capital Sanaa after meeting with the Houthi leader. Griffiths said the discussion with Abdulmalik al-Houthi was "fruitful."

Over 45,000 Yemenis fled from war-torn areas in Hodeidah since the UAE-led offensive against Houthis began on June 13, according to humanitarian organizations.

"Saudi and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are using the United Nations as an umbrella to seize control of Hodeidah through baseless justifications," al-Houthi said.

On June 13, the coalition, backing internationally-recognized government of exiled Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, declared a major assault to recapture Hodeidah and the Yemeni western Red Sea coast from the Houthis.

Local media reported over 30 fighters have been killed from both warring sides over the past two days.

Last week, the Houthi chief proposed Griffiths to place Hodeidah port under the UN supervision to prevent the coalition from attacking the city.

Humanitarian agencies have warned of any attack on the port, saying it would lead to the world's biggest humanitarian catastrophe in modern history.

Al-Houthi did not provide any details on what he called "deals."

SANAA, July 7 (Xinhua) -- Abdulmalik al-Houthi, leader of Houthi rebels in Yemen, on Saturday called for a public mobilization to reinforce his fighters in the war against a Saudi Arabia-led coalition forces in the Yemeni Red Sea coast.