Three killed in Saudi Arabia following Houthi missile attack

All signs early on Tuesday pointed to an imminent offensive on Yemen's coastal city of Al Hodeidah, led by the national Yemeni forces and with support from the Arab coalition to end the Houthi militia control over the city.

The council met behind closed doors to hear United Nations envoy Martin Griffiths report on his diplomatic efforts to keep the rebel-held port of Hodeida open to shipments of aid and commercial goods.

Tensions have risen in recent months between Yemen's internationally recognised government and the United Arab Emirates.

Col. Turki Al Malki, the Official Spokesman of the Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen, stated that on Saturday, the Southern Region Operations Center announced that the terrorist Iranian-backed Houthi militia has targeted civilians with a projectile, which resulted in the martyrdom of three civilians in Jazan Governorate, the official Saudi Press Agency, SPA, reported.

Following the closed-door council meeting, Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia, who is council president this month, called for de-escalation and said the top United Nations body would be "closely" following developments. "It is essential for him to be given the time that he needs to facilitate a negotiated solution that avoids conflict in the city and we support his efforts to do so".

"We are, at the present moment in intense consultation ..."

United Nations aid chief Mark Lowcock said an attack on Hodeida would be "catastrophic" and that aid agencies were hoping to "stay and deliver" in Yemen, which the United Nations describes as the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

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The United Arab Emirates has given the UN less than 48 hours to try to negotiate a Houthi ceasefire at the strategic Red Sea port of Hodeidah before it mounts an attack on the port through which the bulk of food, medicine and gas to the rest of Yemen is distributed.

Meanwhile, US secretary of state Mike Pompeo said the US "is closely following developments" and has "spoken with Emirati leaders and made clear our desire to address their security concerns while preserving the free flow of humanitarian aid and life-saving commercial imports".

The United Nations pulled all of its worldwide staff out of Al Hodeidah early on Monday morning. The UN humanitarian coordinator for Yemen has warned such an attack would be a "catastrophe".

"If an attack does take place, casualties on all sides will be high, with a likely catastrophic impact on the civilian population", they wrote in a letter to the foreign secretary.

The three-year stalemated war has killed more than 10,000 people and displaced more than three million.

The Huthis captured Hodeida and Yemen's capital Sanaa in 2014, with Saudi Arabia, the UAE and their allies intervening on behalf of the government the following year.

The conflict has left almost 10,000 people dead in Yemen, already the Arab world's poorest country.

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